If you have been following the decline of bees lately, you know a strong contingent of advocates say it is pesticides that are one of the main culprits. Some dispute this view and say results of research studies are inconclusive. It is a little too convenient that the critics of studies showing a link between bee die-offs and pesticides are sometimes working in the chemical industry. Does anyone truly believe them?
The latest bee die-off — at least the latest one reported, there are probably many more — took place in the Portland area. Fifty thousand bumble bees were discovered dead and their deaths were found to have resulted from the spraying of a pesticide called Safari, one of the neonicotinoids that have been implicated in Colony Collapse Disorder. (Honey bees and lady bugs were also found dead at the Portland site.) About ten million bee hives have been lost since 2006 due to this very troubling global trend.
The spraying of Safari on the Linden trees where the Portland bumble bees died was said to have been a mistake, because the pesticide is known to be toxic to bees. “This product is highly toxic to bees exposed to direct treatment or residues on blooming crops or weeds. Do not apply this product or allow it to drift to blooming crops or weeds if bees are visiting the treatment area.” (Source: LA Times)
Fortunately, Oregon state officials have taken action and have restricted the use of eighteen pesticides temporarily. The active ingredient if all these pesticide products is dinotefuran. This chemical is unlikely to cause cancer, and is generally not acutely toxic to humans, unless more than small quantities are ingested or inhaled. According to a New York state document,”Dinotefuran caused some toxicity in chronic feeding studies in laboratory animals, and data indicate that this chemical has the potential to cause some neurotoxic, immunotoxic and reproductive effects.” (Source: Cornell.edu)
“I have directed the agency to take this step in an effort to minimize any potential for additional incidents involving bee deaths connected to pesticide products with this active ingredient until such time as our investigation is completed and we have more information,” explained Katy Coba, an employee of the Oregon State Agricultural Department. (Source: LA Times)
These officials are to be congratulated for making some effort to protect bees and other pollinators. Some states might not have done anything. Will Oregon ban any of the dinotefuran containing products?
A memorial service was held to have a public discussion about what the massive bee die-off meant and how further ones could be avoided.
The Pesticide Action Network indicated 2013 could be a very bad year for bees, and it appears their prediction may be coming true.