Bee Killers

Neonic Pesticides Again Linked to Decline


A study in the journal Nature Communications examined wild bee populations relative to the use of controversial neonic (neonicotinoid) pesticides from 1994 to 2011, and discovered that extinction rates paralleled their use on plants throughout the country.

The 34 species analyzed experienced a 10 percent population drop across the board, with five of the species seeing a decrease of 20 percent or more, and the most-impacted group declining by 30 percent. Researchers say this indicates that up to half of the population decline could be attributed to the use of neonics.

“It contributes, but there is a bigger picture,” says Jeffrey Pettis, an entomologist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture Beltsville Bee Laboratory, in Maryland. Other factors are thought to include parasites such as varroa mites and nosema fungus (a bacterial disease known as foulbrood) plus viruses, drought and loss of habitat.

Meanwhile, the Friends of the Earth (FOE) environmental group has launched a petition calling on the Ace and True Value hardware companies to follow Lowe’s and Home Depot’s example of phasing out the pesticides. FOE says, “If these garden retailers don’t act fast, they’ll lose customers. A new poll shows that 66 percent of Americans prefer to shop at Lowe’s and Home Depot because they’ve committed to stop selling bee-killing pesticides.”

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This article appears in the July 2017 issue of Natural Awakenings.

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