Thursday, May 6, 2010
Pesticides key in 'terminal decline' of bees
Fears for crops as shock figures from America show scale of bee catastrophe
The world may be on the brink of biological disaster after news that a third of US bee colonies did not survive the winter
The Observer: Disturbing evidence that honeybees are in terminal decline has emerged from the United States where, for the fourth year in a row, more than a third of colonies have failed to survive the winter.
The decline of the country's estimated 2.4 million beehives began in 2006, when a phenomenon dubbed colony collapse disorder (CCD) led to the disappearance of hundreds of thousands of colonies. Since then more than three million colonies in the US and billions of honeybees worldwide have died and scientists are no nearer to knowing what is causing the catastrophic fall in numbers...
The collapse in the global honeybee population is a major threat to crops. It is estimated that a third of everything we eat depends upon honeybee pollination...
Potential causes range from parasites... to viral and bacterial infections, pesticides and poor nutrition stemming from intensive farming methods... US scientists have found 121 different pesticides in samples of bees, wax and pollen, lending credence to the notion that pesticides are a key problem...
The World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) reported last week that there was no one single cause, but pointed the finger at the 'irresponsible use' of pesticides that may damage bee health and make them more susceptible to diseases. Bernard Vallat, the OIE's director-general, warned: 'Bees contribute to global food security, and their extinction would represent a terrible biological disaster.'
Image source here.