Saturday, March 23, 2019

Honey bee deaths due to more than just pesticides, Purdue entomologist says

Purdue University entomologist Tom Turpin argues that there is "no such thing" as colony collapse disorder, despite the efforts of environmental groups involved in litigation to get the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to significantly regulate the use of neonicotinoids, claiming that these pesticides are causing a collapse of habitats. 

Several beekeepers and private environmental organizations have filed a lawsuit against the EPA challenging its  limited regulations on neonicotinoids, which are "systemic pesticides" that coat an entire seed.  

Turpin does not deny that there is a decline in the honey bee population.

“Research shows that neonicotinoid insecticides (like almost any insecticide) kill honey bees,” Turpin recently told EP News Wire. “Certainly mortality of honey bees, regardless of the cause and if extensive enough, can result in the death of honey bee colonies.”

Turpin explained that there is “no question that the number of honey bee colonies have decreased to almost nonexistent numbers in recent years.”
But he believes there is more involved with the decline than just pesticides.

“Several factors including diseases, mites, exposure to insecticides and unusually warm winters have contributed to colony death.” Turpin said.

Despite the decline in the honey bee population, “so-called colony collapse disorder is not a specific disorder, but a perfect storm combination of inimical factors that result in death of the colony.” Turpin argues.

“Managed colonies can also suffer from lack of proper care, such as a lack of stored honey to support them during winter months, especially in warmer-than-normal seasons when the bees fly more often than necessary and use up stored food resources,” Turpin said.  

Turpin further explained that “honey bees are not native insects in North America. That in itself is not related to the loss of colonies, but might have some relevance to native pollinators in the pollination process.”

He argues that bees were dying before the use of neonicotinoids and these pesticides can be used properly to avoid harm to honey bee colonies. Collaboration between industries is the best way to protect the honey bee population, Turpin said. 

“As has always been the case, honey bee colony success is partially the result of mutual efforts between beekeepers and crop growers to minimize the impact from insecticides," he told EP News Wire.

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Purdue University U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

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