Approximately 25,000 – 50,000 bumble bees, along with honey bees and lady bugs were found found dead recently at a Target store parking lot in Wilsonville, Oregon. A Portland-based Xerces Society of Invertebrate Conservation was called to the scene to investigate. The bees were found clustered under dozens of European linden trees, the organization believes that the cause of death is likely attributable to acute pesticide poisoning, but are not 100 percent certain. It was recently discovered that that the linden trees were mistakenly sprayed on June 15 with Safari, a potent insecticide.
After several calls at the office I visited the Target store in Wilsonville and found a parking lot full of dead bumble bees underneath blooming European linden trees. They were literally falling out of the trees. To our knowledge this is one of the largest documented bumble bee deaths in the Western U.S. It was heartbreaking to watch – Rich Hatfield, conservation biologists with the Portland Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation
The Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) was also contacted, they are currently collecting samples to determine whether pesticides were used at the site. 50, 000 bees represents a loss of at least 300 colonies. Each of those colonies could have produced multiple new queens that would have gone on to establish new colonies next year. As we all know, bees are considered vital due to the fact that they are pollinators of many food crops.
What’s worse is that the bees were killed during a ‘National Pollenator Week,’ a week aimed at celebrating the vital role that bees play in our ecosystem. This incident is the latest in a series of bee die-offs that has resulted in the decimation of 31% of the US bee population in 2013 alone. The large-scale erosion of bee populations poses a serious threat to the food supply.
It’s hard not to ask whether Monsanto is enjoying this, it gives them another excuse to push the manufacturing of genetically modified foods (GMO).
Recently, the British Beekeepers Association (BBKA) recorded its worst losses of honeybees in history. The level of honeybee colony losses across England has more than doubled since last year, up to 33.8% from 16.2% in 2012. You can read more about that here. This is worldwide phenomenon.
It’s the U.S. government’s Environmental Protection Agency that approves of the GMO insecticide responsible for killing millions of bees. You can read more about that here.
Not to long ago, the US government was sued for their use of pesticides killing millions of bees, and ignoring scientific evidence that proves it. You can read more about that here.
The link between pesticides and bee deaths cannot be argued. It has been published in a number of peer-reviewed journals that show how widely used pesticides have a very damaging effect on bees. A new paper published in the journal Nature shows how bees are twice as likely to die when exposed to pesticides; two-thirds of the bees are lost when exposed compared to a third when not exposed. The exposed bees are also half as successful in gathering food. The exotoxicology tests only looked at honey bees, and failed to include bumblebees. Bumblebees are just as important in providing the required pollination to create much of the food we consume. You can read more in the journal Nature here.
There was also a study done by the NCBI which you can read here. This study also found that various groups of neonicotinoids are harming honey bees. They discovered that both clothianidin and and thiamethoxam persist in “extremely high levels” in planter exhaust material produced during the planting of crops treated with these insecticides. The research team also found neonicotinoid compounds in soil, including in fields where the chemicals were not even sprayed. They also found them in several plants and flowers visited by bees. Researchers determined that bees actively transfer contaminated pollen from primarily neonicotinoid treated corn crops, and bring it back to their hives. The bees also transfer these compounds to other plants and crops that are not treated with the chemicals, which shows just how persistent these chemicals truly are in the environment.
It’s amazing how much information is surfacing within the past few years. Information regarding all sectors of society is emerging as the world continues to wake up. Those with the eyes to see, ears to hear and the heart to feel are responding. The bee insecticide debate should not be a debate anymore.