When I was little, we used to drive through the San Joaquin Valley in California where cotton and alfalfa and almonds grew abundantly. At the end of our trips, there was always a thick layer of insects on the front of the car and windshield. Now you can drive across America and maybe one or two insects adhere to a car.
Every year I see fewer and fewer bees and other pollinators in my yard, which has plenty of lonely flowers.
Neonicotinoids (manufactured by corporations such as Bayer, Syngenta, and Monsanto) is a type of insecticide chemically related to nicotine. It’s a nerve toxin that affects the brains of bees and all other insects and other forms of wildlife as well. It’s really toxic to insects, much more than almost anything else anyone has invented before.
Nerve toxins affect the brain of the bee. The bee becomes less able to navigate and it can’t learn or associate. It becomes confused, intoxicated. And bees need to be able to navigate; it’s one of the key things that they’re really good at. It’s essential for what they do because that’s how they find flowers and get to or from their nest. So with a honeybee or bumblebee, the workers go out and forage all day long and they can fly miles to find patches of flowers and bring food back. But if they’ve been given a dose of the nerve toxin, they can’t navigate, and they get lost, and that’s going to cut off the food supply to the nest.
To illustrate the toxicity of these pesticides, a fifth of a teaspoon is enough to kill 250 million bees. In the U.K., which is a pretty small area, people buy 80 tons of these chemicals every year — the U.S. figure is much, much higher. So we’re putting tons and tons of stuff into the land which is persistent, it’s systemic, it gets into plants, it gets into pollen and nectar. Read the entire article here.
The chart below shows the total losses (red bars) of managed honeybee colonies in the U.S. over the past eight winters. The acceptable loss range (blue bars) is the average percentage of acceptable loss declared by honeybee colony managers for each of the eight winters. Roughly one-quarter of U.S. crops depend on honeybees for pollination. “Yearly fluctuations in the rate of losses like these only demonstrate how complicated the whole issue of honey bee heath has become,” said a USDA researcher, citing factors such as viruses, pathogens, and pesticides.Credit: U.S. Department of Agriculture, which reports that the honeybee death rate is too high for long-term survival.