Biggest ever study notes: “Bees dying from pesticides”

A new study into the use of neonicotinoid pesticides that the controversial pesticides are dangerous to bees. The researchers found that honey bees were exposed to the chemicals are less likely to survive the winter, while bumblebees and solitary bees produce fewer queens. The results are grist to the mill of opponents of the controversial products.

“We see clear negative effects at critical stages of the life cycle. This is a cause for concern,” said Richard Pywell, co-author of the study published today in the journal Science.

The study by the Center for Ecology and Hydrology in the United Kingdom is the largest-scale research carried out to date on the issue. However, it was mainly funded by two major neonicotinoïdeproducenten, Bayer CropScience and Sygentia. The researchers themselves say that they are completely independent proceeded.

The study comes at a crucial time for the European Union welcomes autumn on a total ban on neonicotinoids. Currently, all pesticides must not be used on flowering crops.

growing concern

In recent years, the concerns of scientists and policy makers on the use of neonicotinoids – or simply neonics – increasing. The pesticides are typically applied to the seeds before they are planted and found later in the pollen.

Laboratory studies on the effect on the health and behavior of bees were in the past often criticized the bees a larger dose chemicals were administered than in the outside world would be the case. Field research yielded sometimes divergent results.

Answering questions

To provide a conclusive answer to all questions, undertook the Center for Ecology and Hydrology, the largest study ever. They divided three types of bees – honeybees, bumblebees and solitary bees – about 33 locations where rapeseed is grown in the United Kingdom, Germany and Hungary. Some bees were placed near plants were protected with neonics, others in fields where the chemicals were not used.

The study found that the pesticides had an overall negative impact on bees. The researchers also found that even wild bees were exposed to a neonic was not used once during the study and found that the damage can be caused by residue from previous harvests.

But the results are not fully certified. So the pesticides appear to be harmful to bees on the British and Hungarian sites, but apparently they had a temporary positive effect on honey bees in Germany.

Pywell notes however that the German securities were of short duration. This is probably due, according to him the fact that the German colonies generally reprobate better health than others. Moreover, it appeared that German bees only fifteen percent of their diet found in the rapeseed fields, as opposed to 40 to 50 percent in the UK and Hungary. “The bees in Germany have clearly fed with other blossoms, and were therefore less exposed to neonics,” according to Pywell.

Second study of long-term exposure

At the same time “Science” published a separate study of insect scientist Amro Zayed. Which was funded by the Ministry of Agriculture here in Ontario.

Zayeds team fixed the bees during their entire season were exposed to “toxicologically significant” levels of nicotinoïden. During gave further research in the laboratory, the researchers observed bees was the same amount as in the chemicals field. They discovered that the insects than bees had had no exposure shorter lifespan and their colonies were less able to maintain their healthy queen.

Moreover, the study Zayed noted that the effects of the neonics were the worst in combination with a fungicide.


Both Bayer and Syngentia draw the conclusions of the scientists questioned and defend the pesticides that are banned in many countries. They cite the conclusions of the study a “simplistic” interpretation of complex and “inconsistent” results.

Pywell itself weathers. “We stand behind our peer-reviewed study. We undertook statistical analysis and reported the findings, as we saw, and that is underlined by the data. We are absolutely independent.”

Prof. David Goulson, bee expert at the University of Sussex, it occurs in. “In light of these new studies, continued to assert that neonicotinoids do not harm agricultural damage to bees no longer a tenable position I think we need to look at the bigger picture:. The current agricultural model based on massive monocultures covered with dozens of pesticides, will bring enormous damage to the environment and undermines vital functions of the ecosystem that keeps us alive. “

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About the Author: Emmy Skylar

Emmy Skylar started working for Debate Report in 2017. Emmy grew up in a small town in northern Manitoba. But moved to Ontario for university. Before joining Debate Report, Emmy briefly worked as a freelance journalist for CBC News.  She covers politics and the economy.

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