Investigators look into what caused thousands of bees to die in Spokane neighborhood

Image of honey bees.

(KREM) Bee investigators from the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Agriculture arrived this week to begin looking into what caused the rapid die off. Investigators are asking questions to people who live in Corbin Park about what they’ve noticed to try and pinpoint a cause. They suited up, took pictures of the neighborhood, collected some of the dead bees and took samples of hives.

Lawsuit challenges EPA’s 200 million-acre expansion of pesticide harmful to bees

Image of leafcutter bee.

(Center for Biological Diversity) The Center for Biological Diversity and Center for Food Safety have sued the Trump administration over its July decision to approve use of the pesticide sulfoxaflor across more than 200 million acres of crops. The approval was granted despite the fact that the Environmental Protection Agency’s own scientists concluded that sulfoxaflor is “very highly toxic” to bees. The decision expands the pesticide’s use to a wide range of crops that attract bees, including soybeans, cotton, strawberries, squash and citrus. The Center’s fact sheet on sulfoxaflor can be found here.

Bees are dropping dead in Brazil and sending a message to humans

Image of tractor spraying pesticides.

(Bloomberg) Around half a billion bees died in four of Brazil’s southern states in the year’s first months. The die-off highlights questions about the ocean of pesticides used in the country’s agriculture and whether chemicals are washing through the human food supply — even as the government considers permitting more. Most dead bees showed traces of Fipronil, a insecticide proscribed in the European Union and classified as a possible human carcinogen by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Pesticide widely used in US particularly harmful to bees, study finds

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(The Guardian) Agriculture in the United States has become 48 times more toxic to insects over the last 25 years, largely due to neonicotinoid pesticides, according to the study. “We have not learned our lessons… There’s this fundamental recklessness and foolishness to introducing [neonics] and continuing down this path,” says Kendra Klein, an author of the study and a senior scientist at not-for-profit Friends of the Earth. The study can be found here.

Adjuvants amplify the toxicity of pesticides on honey bees

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(EurekAlert/Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry) When applied alone, adjuvants – chemicals commonly added to pesticides to help them spread, adhere to targets, disperse appropriately, prevent drift and so on – caused no significant, immediate toxicity to honeybees. However, when the pesticide acetamiprid was mixed with adjuvants and applied to honeybees in the laboratory, the toxicity was quite significant and immediate: the mortality was significantly higher than for control groups. Additionally, flight intensity, colony intensity and pupae development continued to deteriorate long after the application comparative to the control groups.

Research reveals how bee-friendly limonoids are made

Image of leaf cluster.

(John Innes Centre) The best known limonoid, azadirachtin, is famous for being bee-friendly yet having a strong anti-insect effect. Due to the complex chemical structure of limonoids, it is difficult to chemically synthesize these natural products. As a result, their use is currently limited to what can be extracted from plant materials. “If this engineering could be achieved, then crops could be developed with an inherent resistance to insects, which could reduce reliance on chemical application for crop protection.”