Consumption Junction: The Bee Decline Worsens

by lana lynne on 1.8.2011

Last month, an EPA document leaked to a Colorado beekeeper shed light on the mysterious Colony Collapse Disorder that has been plaguing honeybees since at least 2006. The document, dated November 2, 2010, details how the pesticide clothianidin, produced by the German agrichemical mogul Bayer, was found to be toxic to honeybees:
Clothianidin's major risk concern is to nontarget insects (that is, honey bees). Clothianidin is a neonicotinoid insecticide that is both persistent and systemic. Acute toxicity studies to honey bees show that clothianidin is highly toxic on both a contact and an oral basis. Although EFED does not conduct ... risk assessments on non-target insects, information from standard tests and field studies, as well as incident reports involving other neonicotinoids insecticides (e.g., imidacloprid) suggest the potential for long term toxic risk to honey bees and other beneficial insects.
This memo comes on the heels of Bayer's request to expand the use of clothianidin to cotton and mustard. The EPA granted Bayer full registration for clothianidin on corn and canola last April. The EPA's response to the leaked document, as well as a thorough time line of the story, can be read on Tom Philpott's nicely detailed article on

Meanwhile, we learned more recently that bumblebees are joining the ranks of the waning honeybee population. According to the Guardian, four species of bumblebees have seen their populations drop by 96% in only a few decades. So far, the decline is thought to be from a combination of disease and low genetic diversity.

It remains to be seen whether the bee decline is a case of genocide by corporate colonization -- if not entirely premeditated, then certainly not prevented by chemical corporations. As the demand for pesticide-free growing increases, artificial pollinators could quietly take pesticides' place.

Check out a preview of the documentary, Vanishing of the Bees, which has scheduled screenings nationwide:

Vanishing of the Bees - Trailer from Bee The Change on Vimeo.
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  1. Should've known a corporation was behind it though bayer would've been only my fifth or sixth guess.

  2. interesting thing that's happening to the honey, and possibly to the bees, that caught my attention recently: i visited a city in the eastern part of the country i live (Turkey), and because of my fathers job, had the chance to talk to people working in a sugar-beet factory. one of them was also into bee keeping as a hobby. and to my surprise, but which is commonly known by others, bees weren't feeding from flowers. they were fed by the owners with sugar products coming from the beet. so most of the honey sold in markets are sugar based honey. and they said, that was even better than the starch based honey which is the worst so called honey. and the guy talked about the death of the bees if they can't be fed because they were used to eating sugar products.
    the thing is not so clear in my mind because i didn't have the chance to talk about it more, in details but, there seems to be the possibility that by human hand, we are selecting the bees that are capable of making honey from the sugar, and not the ones that are naturally feeding from the nature. though its a primitive idea, could this have an effect on bee survival? maybe we're chosing the short-living ones? or maybe we made a gene modification, not possibly mutation, just like the common insulin resistance nowadays, by feeding them with sugar directly?

    sure there must be the pest effect, poor creatures are not allied with protecting masks and gear, smelling the poison directly.. especially the bumblebees make me sad.. :(


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