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Daily News Blog

Archive for the 'Pollinators' Category


27
Mar

European Commission Urges Full Ban of Neonicotinoids

(Beyond Pesticides, March 27, 2017) The European Commission (EC) has proposed a complete ban of agricultural uses of the widely used bee-toxic neonicotinoid pesticides across Europe under draft regulations. The EC cites neonicotinoids’ “high acute risks to bees.” In 2013, three neonicotinoids were temporarily banned because of concerns about their high toxicity to bees. A vote by member states can happen as early as May 2017. According to Pesticide Action Network (PAN) Europe, the European Commission has presented to Member States its draft regulations to ban the neonicotinoids: imidacloprid, clothianidin and thiamethoxam. Three draft regulations to ban the three bee-toxic neonicotinoids across the entire EU were submitted to the Standing Committee on Plant, Animal, Food and Feed. These will be open to comments from Member States and a first vote on the Commission’s proposal could take place in May 2017. The new proposals are for a complete ban on the three neonicotinoid uses in fields, with the only exception being for plants grown in greenhouses.  There would need to be a positive vote from 55% of the Member States representing 65% of EU citizens (qualified majority) to implement the proposal. In 2013, the European Commission voted to suspend the use of […]

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24
Mar

Rusty Patched Bumblebee Listed as Endangered

(Beyond Pesticides, March 24, 2017) On March 21, the rusty patched bumblebee’s path to protection cleared political hurdles this week. The Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) on March 21 officially listed the rusty patched bumblebee under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), after months of turmoil due to the Trump Administration’s temporary freeze on federal regulations adopted at the end of the Obama Administration. This listing stands as a landmark decision, marking the rusty patched bumblebee the first bumblebee species, and first bee overall in the continental U.S., to officially be declared endangered by FWS. In October 2016, FWS listed seven species of bees as endangered in Hawaii. The initial decision to list the rusty patched bumblebee as an endangered species came at the very end of President Obama’s term, on January 11, to take effect in February. FWS said in its news release, “Causes of the decline in rusty patched bumble bee populations are believed to be loss of habitat; disease and parasites; use of pesticides that directly or indirectly kill the bees; climate change, which can affect the availability of the flowers they depend on; and extremely small population size. Most likely, a combination of these factors has caused the decline in rusty patched […]

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23
Mar

Just Over a Month until Healthy Hives, Healthy Lives, Healthy Land Conference in Minneapolis!

(Beyond Pesticides, March 23, 2017) We’re just over a month away from Beyond Pesticides’ 35th National Pesticide Forum! Join us for Healthy Hives, Healthy Lives, Healthy Land: Ecological and Organic Strategies for Regeneration, at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota, in Minneapolis, Minnesota on April 28-29, 2017. Click here to register now! Register Today: Get the Early Bird Discount (available until March 28)! As an Early Bird buyer, you can get a general rate for $40, a student rate for $20, or a business rate for $170. Scholarships are also available. All ticket price rates include organic meals: on Friday, organic beer, wine, and hors d’oeuvre; on Saturday, organic breakfast, lunch, and dinner, plus organic beer and wine at the evening reception. For more details about registration, click here. Forum Overview: The national forum highlights nationally renowned scientists, including professor emeritus of plant pathology at Purdue University, Don Huber, Ph.D., whose agricultural research has focused on the  epidemiology and control of soil borne plant pathogens with emphasis on microbial ecology, cultural and biological controls, and physiology of host-parasite relationships; Vera Krischik, Ph.D., a tenured faculty in the Entomology Department at the University of Minnesota whose lab does research on insect exposure to various insecticides, […]

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13
Mar

Native Bees Heading for Extinction

(Beyond Pesticides, March 13, 2017) Nearly 1 in 4 species of native bee is imperiled and at increasing risk of extinction. This, according to a new report from the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD), released earlier this month. The report is the first comprehensive review of the more than 4,000 native bee species in North America and Hawaii, and finds that more than half the species assessed are declining. With native bee decline increasing, advocates say it is imperative that action be taken to reduce toxic pesticide use and restore native habitats lost to chemical-intensive agriculture, urbanization, and climate change. The new analysis, Pollinators in Peril: A systematic status review of North American and Hawaiian native bees, reveals that more than 700 species are in trouble from a range of serious threats, including severe habitat loss and escalating  pesticide use. Key findings include: (1) among native bee species with sufficient data to assess (1,437), more than half (749) are declining; (2) nearly 1 in 4 (347 native bee species) is imperiled and at increasing risk of extinction; (3) many of the bee species lacking sufficient data are also likely declining or at risk of extinction, highlighting the urgent need for additional […]

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06
Mar

Study Shows Impact of Neonicotinoids in Amphibians

(Beyond Pesticides, March 6, 2017) A study published last month by Canadian researchers finds that exposure to the neonicotinoid insecticide imidacloprid at environmentally relevant levels results in slight delays in metamorphosis in the tadpoles of the wood frog. While the authors find that this slight delay is not necessarily a cause for concern from an ecological perspective, sublethal effects of pesticide mixtures and a variety of stressors in the environment play a role in extending juvenile periods in frogs, which can increase mortality and population decline. Because neonicotinoids are so widely use, the authors recommend further research on their impact on declining frog populations. The study, published in Environmental Toxicology and entitled, “Sublethal effects on wood frogs chronically exposed to environmentally relevant concentrations of two neonicotinoid insecticides,” looks at the chronic exposure effects of the neonicotinoids imidacloprid and thiamethoxam on the wood frog (Lithobates sylvaticus). The wood frog was chosen because it is native to North America and has a wide distribution across the continent. The researchers exposed tadpoles to environmentally relevant concentrations (1ug/L, 10ug/L and 100ug/L) of the commercial formulation of the neonicotinoids (Admire and Actara). The study finds a significant difference in time for tadpoles to metamorphose. Tadpoles exposed […]

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01
Mar

Polli-Nation Pollinator of the Month: Fig Wasp

(Beyond Pesticides, March 1, 2017) The Fig wasp is the pollinator of the month for March. A highly evolved pollinator crucial to the life cycle of the fig tree, the fig wasp is part of the chalcidoid family. Within this classification, it is a member of the agaonidae sub family, which consists of both mutualistic pollinating, and parasitic, non-pollinating, fig wasps. Fig wasps have a mutually beneficially relationship with fig trees, as both the tree and the wasp rely on each other for reproduction. According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, there are about 900 species of pollinating fig wasps that are responsible for pollinating 900 different fig tree species. The relationship between fig trees and fig wasps is so evolved that each type of fig wasp pollinates only one specific type of fig tree, creating a beautiful and interdependent evolutionary partnership. Range The range of the fig wasp is dependent on the range of fig trees, which, according to the Encyclopedia of Life, are mainly found in the tropical and subtropical areas of the southern hemisphere. The most widely known fig tree, the common fig tree, or Ficus carica, is native to southwest Asia and the Mediterranean, and range anywhere from […]

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28
Feb

Common Fungicide Damages Muscles that Bees Use to Fly

(Beyond Pesticides, February 27, 2017) Myclobutanil, a systemic fungicide commonly used in agriculture and home gardens, can cause significant damage to the muscles that honey bees use to fly and keep warm during the winter. The results of a study, published this month in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) by a group of researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, underscore the importance of wide-scale education and movement away from the regular use of toxic pesticides. After nearly a decade of unsustainable losses, honey bees and other pollinators continue to suffer declines resulting from the use of toxic pesticides, particularly systemic insecticides called neonicotinoids. Although a substantial body of science implicates neonicotinoids as the most serious chemical threat to pollinators currently, the effects of fungicides and other pesticides on these important animals should not be dismissed as inconsequential. In fact, a 2016 study published by researchers at the University of Maryland found that bee colonies may die off as the number of different pesticide exposures increase. In this recent study, researchers discovered complex interactions between myclobutanil, natural compounds found in flowers, and honey bees’ detoxification system, known as cytochrome 450 enzymes. When foraging on flowers sprayed with […]

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21
Feb

Take Action: Bill Will Eliminate Permit Requirement to Spray Pesticides into Waterways

(Beyond Pesticides, February 21, 2016) The Agriculture Committee in the U.S. House of Representatives approved a bill last week that will eliminate protections from toxic pesticides for the nation’s waterways. The bill now moves on to the full House for a vote and the public has an opportunity to let Representatives hear the concerns about weakening local protection of waterways from toxic pesticides. HR 953, The Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act (code for the sponsors and supporters as legislation to eliminate environmental protection of water quality), is the committee’s latest effort in a multi-year string of attempts to rollback common sense protections for the public waterways all Americans use for swimming, fishing, and other forms of recreation. The bill would repeal the Clean Water Act requirement that those who apply pesticides to waterways, with an exemption for farm use pesticides not directly deposited into waterways, obtain a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit. Last May, at the height of fears over the Zika epidemic, the same Committee ushered through the same bill under another misleading name, The Zika Vector Control Act. Pensive lawmakers and the public saw through the ruse, and the bill was defeated. But, like previous iterations, including the 2015 Sensible Environmental […]

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17
Feb

Two Months until Healthy Hives, Healthy Lives, Healthy Land Conference!

(Beyond Pesticides, February 17, 2017) We’re only two months away from our 35th National Pesticide Forum! Join us for Healthy Hives, Healthy Lives, Healthy Land: Ecological and Organic Strategies for Regeneration, held at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs in Minneapolis, Minnesota on April 28-29, 2017. Register Today Get the Early Bird Discount (available until March 28)! As an Early Bird buyer, you can get a general rate for $40, a student rate for $20, or a business rate for $170. Scholarships are also available. All ticket price rates include organic meals: on Friday, organic beer, wine, and hors d’oeuvre; on Saturday, organic breakfast, lunch, and dinner, plus organic beer and wine at the evening reception. For more details about registration, click here. Background The Forum offers a unique opportunity during a critical time in our nation’s history to chart a course that upholds principles, values, policies and practices that protect health and the environment. The Forum brings together speakers on the latest science on pesticides, from bee-toxic neonicotinoids to glyphosate, contrasted with practitioners utilizing organic management practices in agriculture and parks, and on athletic fields and rangeland. In sum, the Forum seeks to help hone public understanding of the […]

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16
Feb

Trump Administration Sued on Reversal of Endangered Species Designation for Rusty Patched Bumblebee

(Beyond Pesticides, February 16, 2017) On Tuesday, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) sued the Trump administration for reversing a February 10 rule, published in the Federal Register, that designated the Rusty Patched Bumblebee an endangered species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The reversal  of the endangered species listing establishes a new review period until March 21. As to their reasoning for such a sudden change, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) cited the White House memo instructing federal agencies to postpone the effective date of any regulations that had been published in the Federal Register, but not yet in effect. As discussed several days ago, the order by the Trump administration means that despite FWS’ determination that without federal action the species will likely become endangered, the Trump administration has 60 days to evaluate the decision for the purpose of “reviewing questions of fact, law, and policy.” The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, argues that FWS violated the notice and comment requirements of public rulemaking for the delay on the bumblebee listing. In the lawsuit, NRDC states that, “Without valid explanation, opportunity for public input, or other legally required process, FWS […]

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14
Feb

Trump Administration Reverses Endangered Species Designation for Bumblebee Pending Review

(Beyond Pesticides, February 14, 2017) Less than one month after the Rusty Patched Bumblebee’s listing as ‘threatened’ under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), the Trump Administration has reversed the order. On his first day in office, President Trump issued a memo instructing federal agencies to postpone the effective date of any regulations that had been published in the Federal Register, but not yet in effect. This order means that despite FWS’ determination that without federal action the species will likely become endangered, the Trump administration has 60 days to evaluate the decision for the purpose of “reviewing questions of fact, law, and policy.” Advocates for the imperiled species are urging the administration to allow the Rusty Patched Bumblebee to officially become the first bumblebee federally recognized under ESA. Although the Rusty Patched was once widespread throughout the United States and parts of Canada, it declined dramatically in the 1990’s, and now their populations are estimated to be less than 10% of what they once were.  On its website, FWS lists a number of threats to the Rusty Patched, including pesticides, habitat loss, disease, climate change, and intensive farming practices. Insecticides known as neonicotinoids, […]

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13
Feb

Herbicide Use Contributes to Declines in Monarch Populations

(Beyond Pesticides, February 13, 2017)  A study by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and others  attributes the reduced number of overwintering monarch butterflies –a reduction of 27% from last year—to herbicide use and other factors. The World Wildlife Fund (WWF), in conjunction with U.S. and Mexican environmental groups, has been leading the effort in tracking monarch butterflies.  Their recently released 2016-2017 study concluded that the population of monarch butterflies decreased 27 percent from last year’s population, which had marked an increase from dangerously low levels over the previous three years.  Overall, this marks an 80 percent decline in monarch population from the 1990’s.  Researchers have estimated that within 20 years the monarch butterfly migration could collapse altogether. The study was conducted in December of 2016 when the colonies of monarchs are expected to be at their peak population in Mexico.  Monarch populations are gauged by the area of land they inhabit, rather than counts of butterflies.   Thirteen butterfly colonies were observed, recorded and tracked using geographic information systems software.  The researchers found that the butterflies occupied 2.91 hectares of forest, which re presents a 27.43 percent decrease in population compared to the 4.01 hectares of forest they inhabited during the […]

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03
Feb

Polli-Nation Pollinator of the Month: Ruby-Throated Hummingbird

(Beyond Pesticides, February 3, 2017) The Ruby Throated Hummingbird is the pollinator of the month for February. Hummingbirds are nature’s most nimble of birds. They are so quick and agile that most of the time all you’ll see is a flash of red and green before realizing you just encountered a Ruby Throated Hummingbird. This month’s pollinator is the most abundant species of hummingbird on the eastern half of North America. They are named after the coloration of ruby red feathers around their throat. Range The Ruby Throated Hummingbird is the most populous hummingbird found east of the Mississippi. They enjoy mild habitats such as pine and deciduous forests, and can also be found zipping around urban and suburban gardens and orchards.  Ruby Throated Hummingbirds “winter,” meaning they migrate to warmer parts of the globe during the colder winter months. They typically spend that time in parts of Central America and southern Mexico, but have been known to travel as far south as Costa Rica and the West Indies, according to Animal Diversity Web. They will often migrate without stopping, traveling distances as great as 1,600 km in one trip.  According to the Encyclopedia of Life, the hummingbird’s mating grounds are typically east of the 100th meridian in the […]

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02
Feb

Common Pesticide Ingredient Labeled “Inert” Increases Honey Bee Susceptibility to Virus

(Beyond Pesticides, February 2, 2017) A commonly used inert pesticide ingredient negatively affects the health of honey bees by making larvae more susceptible to a virus, according to a recently published study in the journal, Nature. One of the authors of the study, Julia Fine, PhD candidate, stated that the findings, “Mirror the symptoms observed in hives following almond pollination, when bees are exposed to organosilicone adjuvant residues in pollen, and viral pathogen prevalence is known to increase. In recent years, beekeepers have reported missing, dead and dying brood in their hives following almond pollination, and exposure to agrochemicals, like adjuvants, applied during bloom, has been suggested as a cause.” The study assessed honey bee larval development after exposure to a continuous low dose of Sylgard 309, a surfactant, in their diet. This organosilicone surfactant is commonly used on agricultural crops, including tree fruits, nuts, and grapes. Their results reveal that honey bee exposure to chemical surfactants such as Sylgard 309 led to higher levels of Black Queen Cell Virus and when the bee larvae were exposed to the surfactant and virus simultaneously, “the effect on their mortality was synergistic rather than additive.” This research comes at a time when […]

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31
Jan

Judge Rules Against Monsanto, Allows California to List Glyphosate Products as Cancer Causing

(Beyond Pesticides, January 31, 2017) A tentative ruling last week by Fresno County Superior Court Judge Kristi Culver Kapetan moves California closer to listing glyphosate (Roundup) as a carcinogen under the state’s Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986 (Proposition 65). Monsanto, a leading manufacturer of glyphosate under its Roundup brand, sued California to stop the listing, as it would require cancer warning labels be placed on its end-use product. The company indicates it will challenge the tentative ruling. California’s proposed to list glyphosate as a carcinogen after a 2015 determination of the International Agency for Research on Cancer, a United Nations body under the World Health Organization, that the chemical is a cancer-causing agent for humans based on laboratory studies. Monsanto refutes these claims, and since the determination has worked directly, and through proxy organizations, to discredit and attack IARC, as well as individual scientists that have participated in its decision-making process. Shortly after IARC’s Monograph on glyphosate, the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR), a Monsanto-supported group, released a report dismissing glyphosate’s link to cancer. In October of last year, the U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, led by Rep. Jason Chaffetz […]

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24
Jan

University Scientists Dispute Syngenta Study Conclusion that Pesticide Is Low Risk to Bees

(Beyond Pesticides, January 24, 2017) An analysis conducted by scientists at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland is calling into question the conclusions reached in a study conducted by multinational chemical company Syngenta, which indicated that honey bees were not at risk from the widely used neonicotinoid insecticide thiamethoxam. The challenge to the Pilling et al 2013 study is important because while many experiments have been performed in the lab or semi-lab environment, this study was a field experiment developed to test pollinator exposure under normal agricultural conditions. The conclusions of such real-world experiments are weighed more heavily by regulators when making safety and use determinations. St. Andrews’ scientists focus in on the Pilling et al claim that because its study did not have high levels of replication, that it would have been misleading to perform formal statistical analysis. They respond that this would indeed be the case if Pilling et al had intended on finding statistical significance and concluded that there was no effect based on those tests. However, Syngenta’s scientists instead simply graphed average values over time based on their measurements (measurements such as number of bees in a hive, hive weight, number of brood, etc.), and compared […]

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23
Jan

EPA Finds Widely Used Pesticides Could Harm 97 Percent of Endangered Species

(Beyond Pesticides, January 23, 2017) Last week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)  released its final Biological Evaluations of Three Chemicals’ Impacts on Endangered Species, which finds that chlorpyrifos and malathion likely have detrimental effect on 97 percent of all species listed and protected under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), while diazinon adversely affects 78 percent. According to EPA’s release on the subject, this is the “first-ever draft biological evaluations analyzing the nation-wide effects” of these registered chemicals on endangered species after decades of widespread use. The evaluations stem from a legal settlement with the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) in which CBD sued EPA in April 2014 for its failure to comply with ESA, which requires the agency to carry out consultations with federal wildlife agencies while registering pesticides. According to Nathan Donley, Ph.D., a CBD senior scientist, “We’re now getting a much more complete picture of the risks that pesticides pose to wildlife at the brink of extinction, including birds, frogs, fish and plants. When it comes to pesticides, it’s always best to look before you leap, to understand the risks to people and wildlife before they’re put into use. The EPA is providing a reasonable assessment of those risks, many of which can be […]

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17
Jan

EPA Finds Risks to Bees from Neonicotinoid Insecticides, Fails to Act Accordingly

(Beyond Pesticides, January 17, 2017) On January 12, 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released major risk assessment documents on  pollinator exposure to bee-toxic neonicotinoid insecticides finding no significant risks, despite the large and growing body of science identifying the pesticides’ hazards. In the documents, EPA identifies risks posed to bees by several neonicotinoid insecticides, but suggests that no restriction on uses are imminent. In another decision meant to protect bees from acutely toxic pesticides, the agency is scaling back its original proposal in deference chemical-intensive agricultural interests. EPA’s long awaited pollinator assessments for the neonicotinoids: clothianidin, thiamethoxam, and dinotefuran, much like the 2016 pollinator assessment release for imidacloprid, identifies risks to bees from the agricultural applications (foliar, soil and seed) of these chemicals, including from pesticide drift. Observed effects include decline in worker bees, and subsequent declines in brood and pollen stores in the colony. EPA‘s assessments continue to focus on honey bees, with cursory mention of wild, native bees. Once again, the assessments did not consider risks from exposures to contaminated water, guttation droplets, or soil, with EPA stating that, “The Agency lacks information to understand the relative importance of these other routes of exposures and/or to quantify potential risks […]

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13
Jan

EPA Announcement on Bee-Toxic Pesticides At Odds with Latest Independent Science on Neonicotinoids

(Beyond Pesticides, January 13, 2016) Just prior to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announcement on January 12 that several neonicotinoid insecticides “do not pose significant risks to bee colonies,” the preprint version of a new review of neonics identified the range of lethal and sublethal effects of the chemicals on non-target organisms.  The review, The Environmental Risks of Neonicotinoid Pesticides: a review of the evidence post-2013, authored by Dave Goulson, PhD, and Thomas James Wood, a PhD candidate, concludes that studies published since the 2013 European Food Safety (EFSA) published risk assessments show even greater risks. The EFSA assessment, which led to a moratorium on neonicotinoid uses, found that certain neonics on specific flowering crops pose a high risk to bees. With reference to the 2013 EFSA risk assessment conclusions as their baseline, the researchers summarize the difference in risk for certain categories, including: “Risk of exposure from and uptake of neonicotinoids in non-crop plants. Uptake of neonicotinoids by non-target plants was considered likely to be negligible, though a data gap was identified. Many studies have since been published demonstrating extensive uptake of neonicotinoids and their presence in the pollen, nectar and foliage of wild plants. Exposure from non-target plants clearly represents a Greater […]

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12
Jan

Rusty Patch Bumblebee Officially Listed as an Endangered Species

(Beyond Pesticides, January 12, 2017) Yesterday marked a monumental event in the fight against pollinator declines, as the rusty patched bumblebee became the first bee species to officially be declared endangered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). According to FWS, endangered species designations are made when a species is “in danger of becoming extinct throughout all or a portion of their range.” Tom Melius, Service Midwest Regional Director for FWS, stated in a press release that, when it comes to this determination, “[FWS’s] top priority is to act quickly to prevent extinction of the rusty patched bumble bee. Listing the bee as endangered will help [the agency] mobilize partners and focus resources on finding ways right now to stop the decline.” Listed yesterday in the Federal Register, the ruling will go into effect February 10, 2017. This is a victory for environmental groups who have fought to protect the rusty patched bumble bee from widespread threats, such as habitat loss and pesticide use. According to FWS, the rusty patched bumble bee was once widespread across the United States and parts of Canada, but declined dramatically in the 1990s.  Since then, their populations have dwindled and their overall decline is estimated at 91 […]

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10
Jan

More Evidence Neonics Inhibit Social Behavior and Pollination Skills in Bumblebees

(Beyond Pesticides, January 10, 2017) Exposure to neonicotinoid (neonic) insecticides leads to a decrease in pollination frequency and fewer social interactions in bumblebees, according to research published by scientists from Harvard University and University of California, Davis. The study, released last year but presented this week at the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology’s annual meeting, underscores the need for regulators and policy makers to eliminate use of these chemicals, not only to protect honey bees, but also wild pollinators like the bumblebee. While worker bumblebees (Bombus impatiens) divide their tasks within the colony in a similar manner to honey bees, their nests appear quite different than their more structured cousins. “Bumblebee nests are not the organized, beautiful geometry of the honeybee,” said James Crall, PhD candidate in Harvard’s Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology. Instead, “They’re more a hodge-podge of food and larvae in a pile in the middle of the nest space.” For their study, researchers placed four bumblebee colonies in a mesh enclosed area, tagged each bee, and observed them foraging on tomato flowers grown in a pollinator-excluding greenhouse (to ensure bees had freshly-opened flowers for pollination each day). After observing normal behavior, bees within each colony […]

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06
Jan

Introducing Polli-NATION: Celebrating Unsung Pollinator Heroes

(Beyond Pesticides, January 6, 2017) When it comes to pollination, bees tend to get all of the buzz. While they are crucial to pollinating many crops, it is important to note that bees aren’t the only pollinators working hard to provide the ecosystem services we rely on to support our food system. In fact, one out of every three bites of food we take is made possible by pollinators. In order to raise awareness for the unsung pollinator heroes all around us, Beyond Pesticides created the Polli-NATION Campaign, which highlights the important work of a relatively unknown pollinator each month. With it, we will raise public awareness about these pollinators, their contribution to plant health and productivity and the preservation of natural resources, and the threats they face in their daily lives, including toxic pesticides and habitat loss. Polli-NATION members include species like butterflies, wasps, flies, beetles, birds, bats, and more. By taking the time to read about our featured Polli-NATION pollinator, you will not only learn about the many diverse species we call pollinators, but also discover what you can do in your daily life to help ensure their survival. Our pollinator of the month is the bee fly! […]

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03
Jan

Herbicide Atrazine Affects Estuarine Phytoplankton Productivity, Threatens Aquatic Life

(Beyond Pesticides, January 3, 2017)  A study published in December 2016 in Environmental Contamination and Toxicology, entitled The Effect of Atrazine on Louisiana Gulf Coast Estuarine Phytoplankton, finds that phytoplankton in estuaries in close proximity to agricultural operations are less productive than phytoplankton in an uncontaminated environment. The study examines three different estuaries of the Mississippi river in Louisiana and also evaluates microcosms with different concentrations of atrazine. Phytoplankton, incredibly important to estuary ecosystems and aquatic life, are an integral part of the aquatic food web and ultimately critical to the wild seafood market. As photosynthetic microorganisms, phytoplankton harness the sun’s energy for metabolism and create as a byproduct of photosynthesis dissolved oxygen, which oxygen-breathing sea life require. For the study, the researchers created microcosms, or large containers that are able to closely mimic ecosystems, so that they can observe the effects of independent variables. On average, phytoplankton in the microcosms are less productive at producing chlorophyll a in the presence of atrazine. The microcosm study design is important because it is difficult to separate and measure the effects of chemicals like atrazine in the environment, given the range of potential causes of phytoplankton decline. A variety of factors, like freshwater discharge rates, precipitation, […]

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