Neonicotinoids: despite EU moratorium, bees still at risk

Image of honey bees on comb.

(CNRS) Despite a 2013 moratorium on the use of neonicotinoids in the European Union, residues of these insecticides can still be detected in rape nectar from 48 percent of the plots studied, their concentrations varying greatly over the years. These findings indicate that persistent use of neonicotinoids with certain crops in open fields threatens bees and pollinators frequenting other, untreated crops; they confirm that residues remain and spread in the environment.

House panel advances bill to curb pesticides on wildlife refuges

Image of silhouette of bird and grass.

(Bloomberg Environment) The Protect Our Refuges Act of 2019 (H.R. 2854) would reinstate a 2014 ban on the use of neonicotinoid insecticides in national wildlife refuges. The Trump administration’s Interior Department revoked the 2014 ban in August of 2018, citing the increased importance of genetically modified (GMO) seed crops, which often contain neonicotinoid seed coatings, for maintaining agricultural operations of wildlife preserves.

European lawmakers vote to strengthen bee protection

Image of honey bees.

(StarTribune) The European Parliament on Wednesday blocked a diluted proposal by the 28-nation bloc’s executive arm on protecting bees from pesticides, arguing it didn’t go far enough. European lawmakers adopted a resolution urging the European Commission to “table new legislation based on the latest scientific and technical knowledge.” They said the Commission weakened its initial proposal due to the opposition of 16 member states which did not want provisions in the draft on how pesticides should be tested to protect bees from chronic exposure.

Natural causes and neonicotinoids can explain bumble bee deaths under linden trees

Image of trees being covered with nets.

(Xerces Society) A recent study adds valuable information to the effort to understand the natural phenomenon of bumble bees dying under linden (Tilia spp.) trees. Unfortunately, recent media coverage of the study could inadvertently mislead people to believe that it is okay to use neonicotinoid insecticides on Tilia trees—a dangerous misinterpretation of existing science.

Bee-harming pesticides make migrating songbirds sick too

Image of white-crowned sparrow in researcher's hand.

(CBC) White-crowned sparrows that ate a tiny dose of the neonicotinoid imidacloprid — equivalent to a just a few coated seeds and far below the lethal dose — lost their appetite, quickly lost weight at a time when they should be fattening up and delayed their migration to their breeding ground by several days. That delay could potentially reduce their success at breeding at a time when bird populations are falling across North America.

A new way to assess the danger that pesticides can pose to bees

Image of female hoary squash bee.

Discussing the hazards that different pesticides might potentially pose to bees can be a frustrating and tricky thing. The problem is that risk assessments are done with honey bees. And the honey bee is by no means representative of the roughly 3,999 other bee species in North America. Sure, a certain dose of a certain chemical under certain conditions might not kill off a perennial honey bee colony with tens of thousands of individuals. But what would the effect be on a single bee who is alive for only six weeks, raising her brood of eight? Especially when the greatest exposure to pesticides can come from the soil.