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Pesticides Registered by EPA Alter Honey Bee Microbiome

Friday, August 12th, 2016

(Beyond Pesticides, August 12, 2016) A new study by a team of scientists at Virginia Tech finds that commonly used in-hive pesticides result in changes to the honey bee gut microbiome. The study, Honey bee gut microbiome is altered by in-hive pesticide exposures, was led by Virginia Tech associate professor of horticulture, Mark Williams, Ph.D., and colleagues from Oregon State University and North Carolina State University. This research, published several weeks ago in the journal Frontiers in Microbiology, aimed to determine the microbiome of honey bees (Apis mellifera) after being exposed to three common pesticides. Coumaphos and tau-fluvalinate, both common miticides used in conventional beekeeping, and chlorothalonil, a fungicide commonly detected in hives, were used as pesticide treatments in the study. While this  research contributes to the already established body of science on the complexity of pesticide exposure effects, beekeepers reported the steepest, and then sustained, declines in honey bee populations after the large  increase in  neonicotinoid pesticide  use in the early 2000’s. Beekeepers nationwide suffered  their highest hive losses of 44.1% in the last national survey from April 2015-2016. While it is likely that neonicotinoids are not the sole factor in pollinator decline, they have been found to exacerbate […]

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Pesticides Impair Bees’ Immune Function, Pure Pollen Diet Has Positive Effect

Wednesday, November 5th, 2014

(Beyond Pesticides, November 5, 2014) New research from Pennsylvania State University reports that pesticides cause large changes in the expression of genes involved in detoxification, immunity and nutrition-sensing in bees, adding to previous research that has found that pesticides compromise bee immune function. This research also finds that bees with a diet of natural, high quality pollen exhibit greater resistance to pesticides’ deleterious effects than bees on an artificial diet. The new study, “Genomic analysis of the interaction between pesticide exposure and nutrition in honey bees (Apis mellifera),” finds that pesticide exposure can impact the expression of genes that are sensitive to diet and nutrition. The researchers, upon feeding honey bees either the miticidal pesticides, coumaphos or fluvalinate, for a period of seven days, noticed significant changes in 1,118 transcripts – or strands of RNA – in the experimental group. The transcripts include genes involved in detoxification, immunity, and nutrition. The authors report that there is substantial overlap in responses to pesticides and pollen-containing diets at the genetic level. Subsequent analyses demonstrate that pollen-based diets reduce the honey bees’ susceptibility to pesticide stress verses an artificial diet – e.g. a soy protein or no protein diet. Thus, the researchers note […]

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Bee Larvae Adversely Affected by Mix of Pesticides and Inert Ingredients

Thursday, February 6th, 2014

(Beyond Pesticides, February 6, 2014) We know that pesticides and bees don’t mix and that particular pesticides, such as neonictinoids, pose significant threats to bee populations worldwide, but a recent study conducted by researchers at Pennsylvania State University have identified that it is “the mix” of the many chemicals in the environment that pose a significant threat to honey bee survival. Looking at the four most common pesticides detected in pollen and wax –fluvalinate, coumaphos, chlorothalonil, and chloropyrifos, Wanyi Zhu and other researchers have assessed the toxic impacts of these pesticides on honey bee larvae at real world exposure levels; that is, levels that are found in existing hives outside of a laboratory. But these researchers go beyond the usual one-chemical analysis in their study,  Four Common Pesticides, Their Mixtures and a Formulation Solvent in the Hive Environment Have High Oral Toxicity to Honey Bee Larvae. Rather than just looking at the pesticides in their individual, out-of-the-bottle form, they also mixed them up and broke them apart. Why did they take this mixed-up approach? “Recently, one hundred and twenty-one different pesticides and metabolites were identified in the hive with an average of seven pesticides per pollen sample, including miticides, insecticides, […]

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Unprecedented Pesticide Contamination Found in Beehives

Tuesday, March 30th, 2010

(Beyond Pesticides, March 30, 2010) Searching for clues to the mysterious disappearance of bees, known as “colony collapse disorder”(CCD), Penn State University researchers have identified widespread pesticide contamination of beehives. The study, “High Levels of Miticides and Agrochemicals in North American Apiaries: Implications for Honey Bee Health,” was published March 19, 2010 in the scientific journal Public Library of Science (PLOS). The study finds 121 different types of pesticides within 887 wax, pollen, bee and hive samples from 23 states. The top 10 most frequently detected pesticides are fluvalinate, coumaphos, chlorpyrifos, chlorothalonil, amitraz, pendamethalin, endosulfan, fenpropathrin, esfenvalerate and atrazine. Miticides are the most common contaminant in the wax and bees, and fungicides are the most common contaminant of pollen. For the full results of the study, including several tables of wax, pollen and bee sample data, download the study from the PLOS website. “The pollen is not in good shape,” Chris Mullin, PhD, lead author of the study, told Discovery News. The authors state that the 98 pesticides and metabolites detected in mixtures up to 214 parts per million (ppm) in bee pollen alone represents a remarkably high level for toxicants in the brood and adult food of this primary […]

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Bee Die-Offs Linked to Pesticide Mixtures, Window of Exposure

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2009

(Beyond Pesticides, November 3, 2009) Research by scientists at the University of Florida (UF) links Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), the widespread disappearance of honey bees that has killed off more than a third of commercial honey bees in the U.S., to larval exposure to a cocktail of frequently used pesticides. Led by UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences bee specialist Jamie Ellis, PhD, the researchers have finished a first round of testing on bee larvae exposed to the pesticides most commonly found in bee hives. The results were presented on October 22 at a meeting of the North American Pollinator Protection Campaign (NAPPC), which funded the study. The work gives insight into how the larvae react to these pesticides, which are usually only tested on adult bees, and sets the stage for the researchers to test the bees’ reaction to combinations of these pesticides. Just like mixing the wrong medications can have deadly and unpredictable results in humans, chemical mixtures pose a quandary for the bee industry. Bees are commonly exposed to multiple pesticides that are either applied to or nearby their hives. “Beeswax, honey and pollen can contain low mixtures of fungicides, insecticides, and herbicides. The larvae develop […]

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Research Shows Wide Array of Pesticide Exposures to Bees

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2008

(Beyond Pesticides, September 2, 2008) In new research findings by a Pennsylvania State University team, honey bees are exposed to a wide variety of pesticides outside of their hives. Add the outside assault to the pesticides already in the waxy structure of the hive, and bee researchers see a problem difficult to evaluate. However, an innovative approach may mitigate at least some beeswax contamination. The researchers presented their analysis of pollen, brood, adult bees and wax samples on August 18 at the 236th national American Chemical Society meeting in Philadelphia. Those results show unprecedented levels of fluvalinate and coumaphos – pesticides used in the hives to combat varroa mites – in all comb and foundation wax samples. They also find lower levels of 70 other pesticides and metabolites of those pesticides in pollen and bees. “Everyone figured that the acaricides (anti-varroa mite chemicals) would be present in the wax because the wax is reprocessed to form the structure of the hives,” says Maryann Frazier, senior extension associate. “It was a bit of a shock to see the levels and the widespread presence of these pesticides.” While the researchers expected the presence of the chemicals available to treat varroa mites in […]

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Honeybees Vanish, Threatening Crops and Livelihoods

Thursday, March 1st, 2007

(Beyond Pesticides, March 1, 2007) In 24 states throughout the country, beekeepers have been shocked to find that bees have been inexplicably disappearing at an alarming rate, according to an article in the New York Times last week. This loss of honeybees threatens not only beekeeper livelihoods but also the production of numerous crops, including California almonds, one of the nation’s most profitable crops. Although the reasons for the honeybee disappearances are unknown, pesticides may be one of the culprits. “I have never seen anything like it,” David Bradshaw, a California beekeeper, said. “Box after box after box are just empty. There’s nobody home.” Last month he discovered that half of his 100 million bees were missing. Beekeepers have fought regional bee crises before, but this is the first national affliction. Bees are flying off in search of pollen and nectar and simply never returning to their colonies. And nobody knows why. Researchers say the bees are presumably dying in the fields, perhaps becoming exhausted or simply disoriented and eventually falling victim to the cold. As researchers scramble to find answers to the syndrome they have decided to call “colony collapse disorder,” growers are becoming openly nervous about the capability […]

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