UK & bee-killing pesticides

image of black bees
Black bees

My assessment of the current state of UK bees follows

MPs call for precautionary ban on pesticides linked to bee decline

Pressure on the government to impose a “precautionary moratorium” on three controversial pesticides linked to the decline of bee populations will crank up a notch today, with the publication of a new report from the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) criticising ministers for their “extraordinarily complacent approach to protecting bees”.

The report calls on the government to impose a ban on imidacloprid, clothianidin and TMX, suspending their use on flowering crops attractive to pollinators. It also argues that with several of the UK’s largest garden retailers, including B&Q and Homebase, having voluntarily withdrawn neonicotinoids their shelves the government should impose a full ban on the sale of neonicotinoids for public domestic use, in order to create an “urban safe haven for pollinators”.

The report notes that France, Germany, Italy and Slovenia have already imposed partial bans on some neonicotinoids and criticises the government for opposing European Commission proposals for a full moratorium on imidacloprid, clothianidin and TMX on all crops attractive to bees.

“Defra seems to be taking an extraordinarily complacent approach to protecting bees given the vital free service that pollinators provide to our economy,” said EAC chair Joan Walley in a statement. “If farmers had to pollinate fruit and vegetables without the help of insects it would cost hundreds of millions of pounds and we would all be stung by rising food prices. Defra Ministers have refused to back EU efforts to protect pollinators and can’t even come up with a convincing plan to encourage bee-friendly farming in the UK.”

Environment Secretary Owen Paterson has argued that the benefits of any ban would outweigh the costs, [a mistake in editing?] insisting there is not yet sufficient evidence to impose restrictions on pesticides that are widely used across the agricultural industry.

But Walley confirmed that the EAC had reached an entirely different conclusion. “We believe that the weight of scientific evidence now warrants precautionary action, so we are calling for a moratorium on pesticides linked to bee decline to be introduced by 1 January next year,” she said. “This allows farmers to use treated seeds that have already been purchased for this growing season and gives Defra time to implement EU legislation on the sustainable use of pesticides.”

The report also criticises the behaviour of some chemicals companies, which have argued that there is not sufficient evidence of a link between the pesticides and declines in bee populations to justify a ban, but have failed to disclose full results from their research into the impact of the chemicals.

“Pesticide companies often try to pick holes in studies linking their products to bee decline, but when pushed to publish their own research and safety studies they hide behind claims of commercial sensitivity,” said Walley. “The industry must open itself to greater academic scrutiny if it wants to justify its continued opposition to the precautionary protection of pollinators.”

‘Flawed research’ leads to bee call

SCOTTISH ministers could today call on the UK government to consider a ban on pesticides linked to the deaths of billions of bees worldwide after a key environment watchdog branded official research into the issue “fundamentally flawed”.

The Scottish Government, which up until now has backed Westminster in opposing a ban on neonicotinoids, said it was now “urgently” reviewing the evidence in the light of the criticism from the UK parliament’s cross-party environmental audit committee.

Committee chair MP Joan Walley said members supported calls from the European Commission for a moratorium on using the controversial insecticides.

The UK government had commissioned a field study on bumblebees which failed to provide conclusive proof there was a major impact on the insects from the pesticides.

But the committee report concludes research was “fundamentally flawed” and should not be used as a reason for not taking action.

Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead last night said: “We will be reviewing this as a matter of urgency.

“If in light of this new advice the case for the EU’s precautionary measures is strong, then I would want the UK government to consider supporting this 

Current State of UK bees

So much rain last year prevented UK bees from building good stores of honey in preparation for winter.

The mild winter was hard on bees keeping them active and consuming their honey stores. A harder winter would have made less demands on stores.

The extended very cold spell this year is the third serious blow to bees. Even with sufficient stores, there was no pollen necessary to rear bees available.

Beekeepers are only starting to realise the damage sustained by bees over the winter as it now becomes warm enough for bees to start flying and to inspect hives. I expect bee colonies to have been decimated with survival over this winter in the region of 25 – 50%.

Continue ReadingUK & bee-killing pesticides

UK politics news review

Labour Party leader made a well-received speech at their conference at Manchester yesterday.

“They think they are born to rule.” … “Have you ever seen a more incompetent, hopeless, out of touch, U-turning, pledge-breaking, make-it-up-as-you-go-along, back-of-the-envelope, miserable shower?” Miliband is here referring to class and/or private education (known in the UK by the misnomer ‘public school’) which is recognised to be much the same thing i.e. to be privately educated is to be ruling class and to be ruling class is to be privately educated[*1]. Private schools teach being ruling class, how to succeed in life by being a ***t [take your pick ;), to lie and cheat and to have an unflinching belief in your own innate superiority and righteousness.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt makes loads of money for nothing and has charged the public purse for Mandarin lessons. How do Mandarin lessons benefit his constituents or the public? Talk about benefit scroungers …

A railway omnishambles proves Miliband’s point

One of the most powerful sections of Ed Miliband’s speech came when, with remarkable fluency, he declared of the government: “Have you ever seen a more incompetent, hopeless, out of touch, U-turning, pledge breaking, make it up as you go along, back-of-the-envelope, miserable shower?” Less than a day later, ministers have demonstrated exactly what he meant.

The Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin has announced that the decision to award the West Coast Main Line rail franchise to FirstGroup has been cancelled after the discovery of “significant technical flaws” in the bidding process. The government will no longer challenge the judicial review sought by Virgin, the current operator, which has long argued that the process did not adequately assess the risks of competing bids (it warned that FirstGroup’s £5.5bn bid was a recipe for bankruptcy). According to McLoughlin, the reopening of the bids will cost the taxpayer “in the region of £40m”.

How GM crops have increased the use of danger pesticides and created superweeds and toxin-resistant insects

Planting GM crops has led to an increase rather than a decrease in the use of pesticides in the last 16 years, according to US scientists.

The researchers said that the plants have caused superweeds and toxin-resistant insects to emerge, meaning farmers have not only had to use more pesticides on their crops overall, but are also using older and more dangerous chemicals.

The findings dramatically undermine the case for adopting the crops, which were sold to farmers and shoppers on the basis that they would reduce the need to be treated with powerful chemicals.


*1. This is not exclusively so. Ed Miliband attended Oxford University after his state schooling and was born to intellectual pretend-Socialist parents. While he missed out on public school, he did have the rest of the ruling class treatment. Does it make him semi ruling class or something similar? Notably, Miliband – just like his brother David – studied Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Oxford. Virtually all UK prime ministers follow this course. Isn’t it strange that two brothers follow the same University course? Is there something [not] going on?

Continue ReadingUK politics news review

UK politics news review

Nick Clegg apologises for broken tuition fees election pledge

Nick Clegg apologises for tuition fees pledge

“There’s no easy way to say this: we made a pledge, we didn’t stick to it and for that I am sorry. . . When we’re wrong, we hold our hands up. But when we’re right we hold our heads up too. We were right to leave the comfort of opposition to face the realities of Government and I know we are fighting for the right things.”



London bomb plotters launch appeal over ‘flawed’ forensic evidence

Four convicted over 21 July 2005 plot claim evidence that bombs were intended to cause carnage was unreliable

Four of the terrorists convicted for the 21 July 2005 bomb plot will launch an attempt to have their sentences quashed following claims by a former senior government scientist that key forensic evidence used to jail the attackers was flawed.

Evidence from Sean Doyle, the former principal scientist at the Ministry of Defence’s Forensic Explosives Laboratory (FEL) who was involved in the investigation into the explosive devices, is set to be submitted to the court of appeal and the Criminal Cases Review Commission by lawyers for Muktar Said Ibrahim, Yassin Oma and Ramzi Mohammed. They were found guilty and sentenced to life in prison in July 2007 for trying to cause carnage on the London transport system.

Their failed attack came two weeks after four suicide bombers murdered 52 people on London’s transport network on 7 July 2005. Manfo Kwaku Asiedu, who pleaded guilty on the lesser charge of conspiracy to cause an explosion, is also seeking to have his conviction overturned.

Doyle alleges that scientific evidence submitted in the original trial that the bombs were intended to cause carnage was unreliable. Lawyers for the men claim that concerns about that evidence should have been disclosed to the court as it went to the heart of the prosecution case. Failure to do so was an abuse of process that should have caused the proceedings against the defendants to be stayed, they say.

The bombs failed to detonate properly and the terrorists’ defence was that the chapati flour and bleach in their rucksack explosives were deliberately mixed to ensure there was no harm caused. They said the attack was “an elaborate hoax designed to protest against and draw attention to Britain’s role in the attack upon and occupation of Iraq”.


The silence of the bees: government refuses to act on pesticide evidence

The bee fiasco began in March with the publication of two studies in Science. The first found that bees consuming one pesticide suffered an 85% loss in the number of queens their nests produced, while the second showed a doubling in “disappeared” bees, those that failed to return from food foraging trips. The work was the first to be carried out in realistic, open-air conditions and used levels of neonicotinoids found in fields.

Professor Mickaël Henry, at INRA in Avignon, France, who led the “disappeared” bees study was under no illusion about the implications of his findings: “Under the effects we saw from the pesticides, the population size would decline disastrously, and make them even more sensitive to parasites or a lack of food.” He said current regulation was inadequate.

These high profile studies – and others – prompted the UK’s environment ministry (Defra) to investigate. “It is appropriate to update the process for assessing the risks of pesticides to bees in the light of scientific developments – including the latest research,” it stated.

Now, six months on, it has delivered its verdict: “The recent studies do not justify changing existing regulation.” How can this be? Defra states:

The studies were interesting but they either used neonicotinoids at a higher level than is currently permitted, or the studies weren’t carried out under field conditions. The studies did not show that currently permitted uses of neonicotinoids have serious implications for the health of bee populations.

Continue ReadingUK politics news review

UK politics news review

Cable on collision course with Tory ministers

Vince Cable put himself on a collision course with his new ministerial colleague yesterday as he firmly ruled out Tory calls to make it easier for employers to sack staff and defended Liberal Democrat plans for a “wealth tax”.

He sought to assert his authority as Business Secretary over his Tory ministers after David Cameron appointed his close ally Michael Fallon to the department in last week’s reshuffle – with an instruction to act as a champion for industry.

Mr Cable set himself in opposition to Mr Fallon over the Tories’ support for “no-fault dismissal”, under which small companies would be allowed to sack staff without explanation. He made clear he was in charge of employment policy and added: “There is job insecurity: we don’t want to add to it.”

In a newspaper interview yesterday, Mr Fallon criticised the Liberal Democrats’ proposal for extra tax on the wealthy. But the Business Secretary told The Andrew Marr Show there was still massive inequality in Britain and said: “Wealthy people could contribute more.”

No ban on pesticides that ‘threaten bees’


Nerve-agent pesticides should not be banned in Britain despite four separate scientific studies strongly linking them to sharp declines in bees around the world, Government scientists have advised.

An internal review of recent research on neonicotinoids – pesticides that act on insects’ central nervous systems and are increasingly blamed for problems with bee colonies – has concluded that no change is needed in British regulation.

The British position contrasts sharply with that of France, which in June banned one of the pesticides, thiamethoxam, made by the Swiss chemicals giant Syngenta. French scientists said it was impairing the abilities of honey-bees to find their way back to their nests. The Green MP Caroline Lucas described the British attitude as one of “astonishing complacency”.

Concern is growing around the world that the chemicals may affect the ability of bees to pollinate crops, something that would have catastrophic consequences for agriculture. Bee pollination has been valued at £200m per year in Britain and £128bn worldwide.

The French research was published in March in the journal Science at the same time as another study by British researchers from the University of Stirling, implicating neonicotinoids in the decline of bumblebees. The British team showed that production of queens, essential for bumblebee colonies to continue, declined by 85 per cent after they were exposed to “field-realistic levels” of another neonicotinoid, imidacloprid, made by the German company Bayer.

In January, the US government’s chief bee researcher published a study showing that imidacloprid makes honeybees far more susceptible to disease, even at doses so low as to be barely detectable. And in April, a team from Harvard claimed to show that imidacloprid was the culprit in colony collapse disorder, in which bees abandon their hives en masse.

All four of these studies have been the subject of a British Government review ordered by Sir Robert Watson, chief scientist at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) – which has concluded that no action needs to be taken against the chemicals concerned.


27/11/13 Having received a takedown notice from the Independent newspaper for a different posting, I have reviewed this article which links to an article at the Independent’s website in order to attempt to ensure conformance with copyright laws.

I consider this posting to comply with copyright laws since
a. Only a small portion of the original article has been quoted satisfying the fair use criteria, and / or
b. This posting satisfies the requirements of a derivative work.

Please be assured that this blog is a non-commercial blog (weblog) which does not feature advertising and has not ever produced any income.


Continue ReadingUK politics news review

Pesticides kill bees

Neonicotinoid pesticides are shown to poison bees. While this study was concerned with bumblebees it is likely that the findings are also relevant to honeybees and similar insects.

The point about pesticides is that they are poisons. Neonicotinoid pesticides are systemic pesticides that affect the whole plant including nectar and pollen.

image of black bees
Black bees


Insecticide blamed for bee deaths by Stirling University study

Use of a specific group of insecticides is having a serious impact on bumblebee populations, according to a team of Scottish scientists.

The Stirling University researchers found exposure even to low levels of neonicotinoid pesticides had a serious impact on the health of bumblebees.

Bee populations have fallen sharply, and scientists say urgent action is needed to reverse the decline.

Of particular concern is an 85% drop in the number of queens.

That means 85% fewer nests in the following year.

The research found bumblebee colony growth slowed after exposure to the chemicals.

This may partly be to blame for colony collapse disorder, a mysterious phenomenon which has hit large numbers of hives in Europe and North America in recent years.

Professor Dave Goulson, who led the Stirling research, said: “Some bumblebee species have declined hugely. For example in North America, several bumblebee species which used to be common have more or less disappeared from the entire continent. In the UK, three species have gone extinct.

“Bumblebees pollinate many of our crops and wild flowers. The use of neonicotinoid pesticides on flowering crops clearly poses a threat to their health, and urgently needs to be re-evaluated.”

Continue ReadingPesticides kill bees

NHS news review & other news

Conservative election poster 2010

A few recent news articles about the UK’s Conservative and Liberal-Democrat (Conservative) coalition government – the ConDem’s – brutal attack on the National Health Service.

Hundreds of GPs issue a rebuttal to a letter that appeared on Monday by an unrepresentative group of doctors claiming that the British Medical Association is not representative of GPs’ views on ConDem plans to destroy the NHS.

Doctors rebut claim most favour health reforms – Telegraph

Opening it up to “competing private providers” will lead to “fragmentation, chaos and damage to the quality and availability of patient care”, according to 365 GPs, specialists and health academics.

The letter is a tit-for-tat move in response to one from 56 in favour, published in Saturday’s edition.

It was written and signed by senior GPs who are leading the set up of clinical commissioning groups (CCGs), which will be handed the lion’s share of the NHS budget when primary care trusts are abolished.

They had warned that the Bill’s failure would put the health service “in peril”, arguing: “The risks of derailing the development of clinical commissioning cannot be underestimated.”

But today’s letter, signed by more than six times as many doctors, throws that language back at them.

“The NHS is not in peril if these reforms don’t go ahead,” they write. “On the contrary, it is the Bill which threatens to derail and fragment the NHS into a collection of competing private providers.”

They argue the Bill “will result in hundreds of different organisations pulling against each other leading to fragmentation, chaos and damage to the quality and availability of patient care”.

BBC News – Government offers NHS bill concessions

The government is to promise the health secretary will keep ultimate control over the NHS in England, as it pushes for Parliament to pass its NHS bill.

The legislation, which would bring a fundamental reorganisation of the service, has encountered opposition from peers and various groups.

But ministers will later table amendments aimed at quelling unrest.

These will include giving more powers to the health watchdog and doing more to encourage medical research.

Through the Health and Social Care Bill, Health Secretary Andrew Lansley is proposing the biggest shake-up since the NHS was founded in 1948.

‘Backdoor privatisation’

Under the plans, groups of GPs will take charge of much of the NHS budget from managers working for primary care trusts, while more competition with the private sector will be encouraged.

The British Medical Association, the Royal College of Nurses and the Royal College of Midwives have all opposed the proposals, with some critics claiming they are unworkable and amount to “backdoor privatisation”.

BBC News – Private firm starts running NHS Hinchingbrooke Hospital

A private firm has become the first to start running an NHS hospital.

Circle, which is co-owned by doctors, has taken on managing Hinchingbrooke Hospital, Cambridgeshire, which had been threatened with closure as it grappled with £40m of debt.

Circle aims to find a solution to the debt problems of the hospital by attracting new patients.

Union Unison said although the hospital had been saved, it was concerned at involving private firms in the NHS.

Lansley pledges a million more people will have access to an NHS dentist | Mail Online

NHS dentists are to treat an extra million patients following a shake-up in funding.

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley will today pledge that everyone who lost their NHS dentist since 2006 will now have access to one.

The Coalition has set aside £28million, trimmed from the NHS budget via efficiency savings, to pay for the new patients.

The funding will be given to primary care trusts, who have bid for the cash by setting out proposals to expand local services.

They will fund new dentists, increase the number of appointments with existing ones, or provide care in people’s homes for patients who cannot travel to a surgery. Between 2006 and 2008, a million Britons lost access to an NHS dentist.

In other news:

There’s a difference between a veto and an abstention or voluntary exclusion. The difference is that a veto prevents something from happening. David Cameron has a different interpretation of a veto.

Any suggestions for an improved name for this beer? Unloved, Discarded Mutt Ale? Muttley Ale? What a howler? Barking Mad?

Why that veto looks less like a victory | Mail Online

Less than two months ago David Cameron said ‘no’ to Europe. He vetoed a treaty agreed by every other EU member state to impose tighter fiscal disciplines across Europe.

As a result of his veto, Britain rejoiced. Just in time for Christmas, the Prime Minister won his best ever press coverage. His ratings soared. Finally we had someone in Downing Street who wasn’t afraid to upset other EU leaders.

The moment seemed exciting, even historic. Many on both sides of the great European debate – sceptics and enthusiasts – concluded that Britain was now in the EU’s departure lounge and it was only a matter of time before Britain formed a very different relationship with Brussels.

But today Cameron’s Christmas veto looks much less significant than it did. After he used it, he repeatedly promised to stop the countries which had signed that new treaty from using European institutions such as the European Court of Justice – which are part funded by British taxpayers – to implement and police it.

This week it became clear that he was not going to fulfil that promise. His resounding ‘no’ has become a tepid ‘oh, go on then’. Little wonder that Ed Miliband taunted the Prime Minister yesterday, saying the veto turned out to be just for Christmas, not for life.

Wheelchair users block Oxford Circus to protest at disability cuts | Society | The Observer

‘We’re not scroungers and fakers’ say wheelchair protesters

Disability activists blocked one of central London’s busiest road junctions on Saturday with a line of wheelchair users chained together in the first of a series of promised direct action protests against government welfare cuts.

The demonstration, which brought much of Oxford Circus to a standstill for more than two hours, was the product of an alliance between disabled groups and UK Uncut, which came to prominence by staging similar direct actions against corporations accused of avoiding tax.

Planned cuts to the disability living allowance could see 500,000 disabled people losing money, the charity Mencap has said.

Many of those taking part said they had never before joined a demonstration, let alone taken such direct action, but felt angry at the proposed cuts and the associated rhetoric from ministers and the media.

“The tabloids have created this idea that we’re scroungers, or fakers,” said Steven Sumpter, 33, who left his home in Evesham, Worcestershire, at 6.30am. “This has allowed the government to do this [propose the cuts]. Disabled people are seen as a good scapegoat.”

BBC News – Ministers seek to overturn peers’ welfare bill changes

The government will seek to overturn seven defeats inflicted by the House of Lords to its Welfare Reform Bill later.

Ministers will urge the Commons to reject peers’ amendments to the bill, including those to disability allowances proposed on Tuesday.

They will also rule out Labour calls to scrap a £26,000 benefits cap in favour of variable limits for different localities, calling them “unworkable”.

Labour says the government needs to create jobs before cutting benefits.

Far-reaching changes to welfare entitlements are needed, ministers argue, to help people out of dependency on the state, increase incentives for work and make the benefits system fair to both claimants and taxpayers.

But campaigners say the proposals – which ministers also hope will save billions – risk pushing already vulnerable people into further hardship and distress.

A reputation shredded: Sir Fred loses his knighthood | Business | The Guardian

Ex-RBS chief executive pays price for role in the recession, leading to calls for others to be stripped of honours

The former chief executive of the Royal Bank of Scotland, Fred Goodwin, has been stripped of his knighthood by the Queen for his role in the creation of the biggest recession since the second world war.

With unceremonial haste, a committee of five senior civil servants took away the knighthood given to Goodwin by the last Labour government in 2004 for services to banking.

The chancellor, George Osborne, welcoming the move, said: “RBS came to symbolise everything that went wrong in the British economy over the past decade.”

Which is a handy distraction for the ConDems from this story whereby they were previously claiming that they could not intervene in obscene bonuses for bankers.

Labour vows to maintain pressure on RBS bonuses | Business | The Guardian

Ed Miliband says Stephen Hester bonus row cannot be a one-off as party pledges to look at payments to other senior bank staff

Labour has said it will put further pressure on RBS executives to rein in excessive bonuses after helping to force the bank’s chief executive, Stephen Hester, to abandon his plan to take a £1m share bonus.

The shadow business secretary, Chuka Umunna, described RBS employees as public sector workers and said Labour would be taking a close look at the bonuses offered to the bank’s senior staff.

The threat of a Commons vote to condemn the size of Hester’s bonus was pivotal in persuading him to forgo his bonus, even though it had been sanctioned by the board and had the implicit endorsement of David Cameron.

The Labour leader, Ed Miliband – looking for victories to strengthen his leadership – can reasonably claim that his party effectively led the charge demanding Hester’s rethink, but now faces the challenge of setting out the wider criteria by which he will judge other salaries and bonuses in the City.

Apple criticism grows as ‘accidental activists’ make their point | Technology |

Almost 150,000 people sign online petition which calls for tech giant to clean up its act on alleged human rights abuses in China

Mark Shields, a communications worker in Washington DC, did not intend to become an activist calling for Apple to clean up its act over allegations of brutal labour abuses in its Chinese supplier network.

But, listening to a recent radio show on the subject, Shields, a dedicated user and fan of Apple products, felt he had to act. He was going to write a letter to Apple until a friend suggested he start a petition at, an online group that facilitates campaigning on controversial subjects.

In its first 48 hours, Shield’s petition attracted more than 140,000 signatures. Now more 147,000 people from all around the world have signed up, and it has become one of the main focuses of consumer discontent at the way Apple makes its sleek computer products that have become a mainstay of much of modern life. “I am an accidental activist here. I have never started a petition before,” Shields, 35, told the Guardian. “I am an Apple person, I have my MacBook and iPhone. I love all that stuff. These products have changed my life, but they are coming at a cost in human suffering,” he added.

Whistleblower: MONSANTO wants to kill the bees to make way for its super bee. – World Affairs – China Forum

Soon to be whistleblower who worked for Monsanto will be releasing documents detailing how Monsanto planned to kill off bee colonies in order to introduce a “new and improved” species of bee that will only pollinate Monsanto crops

Relevant: Monsanto buys company researching death of bees:

        And for those who said crops aren’t pollinated by bees? You’re wrong. Alfalfa is

        And if you think Monsanto isn’t dominating our government? Read some cables released by wikileaks all about our officials asking for

talking points from them, our ambassadords urging trade wars on their behalf:

        Are they evil enough to do this? Read up about Monsanto:

posted by Armando Rozário ¹²³ macanese – Cabo Frio, Brazil     –    January 30, 2012.

Continue ReadingNHS news review & other news

Sub-lethal effects of pesticides on honeybees

image of black bees
Black bees

I am uncertain about the claim to be the first research “to demonstrate the sub-lethal effects of pesticide residue exposure on honey bees” – I believe that there may be a growing body of research that demonstrates this.

Research expands understanding of bee health

Recently published research is the first to demonstrate the sub-lethal effects of pesticide residue exposure on honey bees, which play a critical role in the production of one third of the food that human’s consume.

The pesticides involved in Wu’s study include those used by beekeepers, growers and homeowners. They include miticides, insecticides, fungicides and herbicides. The accumulation occurs because beekeepers reuse combs to save on the expense of replacement.

Some of the consequences to honey bees that Wu found were delayed larval development and a shortened adult lifespan, which can result indirectly in premature shifts in hive roles and foraging activity.

Shortened bee lifespans dramatically change the dynamic of a hive. According to Sheppard, foragers are the bees that provide pollination and bring food back to a hive.

“A bee’s life span as a forager is on average only the last eight days of its life,” he said. “This research shows that, if raised with pesticide residues in the brood comb, an individual’s foraging life span is shortened by four days, a 50 percent cut.”

If there are not sufficient foragers, the colony makes up the deficit by using younger bees that are not physiologically ready. The result is a negative cascade through the hive all the way down to the larval bees because individual nurse bees must prematurely move toward foraging behavior and stop feeding larvae, Sheppard said.

Continue ReadingSub-lethal effects of pesticides on honeybees

More on bees and Neonicotinoid pesticides

Read more about the article More on bees and Neonicotinoid pesticides
Black bees

image of black bees

The Independent has a further article on bees and Neonicatinoid pesticides. I’ve looked for those “two independent studies carried out in the past two years” showing that “bees treated with imidacloprid … are far more susceptible to disease, even at microscopic doses.”Perhaps Mike or Phil could point them out?

In yesterday’s bee post I wrote “These pesticides are systemic meaning that the whole plant is affected. If bees are dying through contaminated nectar, us humans eat the whole fruit or vegetable and are at the very end of the food chain.” I’ve since realised that the normal precautions of washing or peeling fruit and vegetables would be ineffective.

Government asked to investigate new pesticide link to bee decline – Nature, Environment – The Independent

By Michael McCarthy, Environment Editor

The Government is being asked to investigate a possible link between a new generation of pesticides and the decline of honey bees. It is suspected that the chemicals may be impairing the insects’ ability to defend themselves against harmful parasites through grooming.

The Environment Secretary, Caroline Spelman, will have to answer a question in the Commons from the former Home Office minister David Hanson about whether the Government will investigate if the effect of neonicotinoids on the grooming behaviour of bees is similar to its effect on termites.

The pesticides, neonicotinoids, made by the German agribusiness giant Bayer and rapidly spreading in use, are known to be fatal to termites by damaging their ability to groom themselves and thus remove the spores of harmful fungi.

In a leaflet promoting an anti-termite insecticide, Premise 200SC, sold in Asia, the company says it is the direct effect on the insects’ grooming abilities of the neonicotinoid active ingredient, imidacloprid, which eventually kills them. Now bee campaigners in Britain want to know if this mechanism could also be at work on European honey bees and other pollinating insects which are rapidly declining in numbers.

“Grooming protects insects from all kinds of pests and viruses, while helping to maintain general health and functioning,” Ms Williams said yesterday. “A defence for honey bees against the varroa mite [a parasite causing colonies to decline] is to groom the mites away from the body. Do we know for sure that neonicotinoids do not hamper the ability of honey bees to deal with varroa?”

Matt Shardlow, chief executive of Buglife, the invertebrate conservation charity, said: “Scientific studies have shown that neonicotinoids significantly reduce the activity of honey bees, and it is highly likely that this would include a reduction in the amount of grooming that they do.

“Hence there is a clear potential mechanism for these pesticides to damage the first line of defence that insects have against disease. Again it seems clear that insecticides are linked to sickness in bees and impairment to pollination services.”

The possibility fits in with what has already been discovered about the harmful effects of neonicotinoids – in that bees treated with imidacloprid, which is Bayer’s biggest-selling insecticide worth £500m a year in sales to the company – are far more susceptible to disease, even at microscopic doses. This has been shown by two independent studies carried out in the past two years.

In its publicity material for Premise 200SC, Bayer says: “The termites are susceptible to disease caused by micro-organisms or fungi found in soil.

“A principal part of their defence system is their grooming habits, which allow the termites to get rid of the fungal spores before these spores germinate and cause disease or death. Premise 200SC interferes with this natural process by lowering defences to nature’s own weaponry.”

Dr Julian Little, Bayer’s UK spokesman, said: “We do a lot of tests of the effects of insecticides on bees, and impairment of grooming has never shown up.”

Specific tests to see whether or not bees’ grooming ability was impaired by neonicotinoids had not been carried out, he added.

Exclusive: Bees facing a poisoned spring – Nature, Environment – The Independent

Ban Neonicotinoid Pesticides to Save the Honeybee

Leaked document shows EPA allowed bee-toxic pesticide despite own scientists’ red flags | Grist

Top USDA bee researcher also found Bayer pesticide harmful to honeybees | Grist


27/11/13 Having received a takedown notice from the Independent newspaper for a different posting, I have reviewed this article which links to an article at the Independent’s website in order to attempt to ensure conformance with copyright laws.

I consider this posting to comply with copyright laws since
a. Only a small portion of the original article has been quoted satisfying the fair use criteria, and / or
b. This posting satisfies the requirements of a derivative work.

Please be assured that this blog is a non-commercial blog (weblog) which does not feature advertising and has not ever produced any income.


Continue ReadingMore on bees and Neonicotinoid pesticides

Neonicotinoids and dying bees

image of black bees


The Independent has an article today about concern that Neonicatinoid pesticides are damaging the bee population. It says that Prof. Robert Watson, chief scientific advisor at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has initiated an inquiry.

Growing concern about the new generation of pesticides used on 2.5 million acres of UK farmland has led one of the Government’s most senior scientific advisers to order a review of the evidence used to justify their safety.

There are mounting fears around the world that the growing use of “neonicotinoid” pesticides, which work by poisoning the nervous system of insects, could explain why bees and other pollinating insects are in such dramatic decline in Britain, Europe and the United States, where the insecticide is widely used.

The official British government position has been that the insecticide is safe when used correctly – but Professor Robert Watson, the chief scientific adviser at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), has now initiated his own inquiry, The Independent can reveal, because of concerns about the alleged effects on bees.

I would suggest that there is little doubt that Neonicotinoids are seriously killing honey bee populations. There is also the overlooked issue to human health. These pesticides are systemic meaning that the whole plant is affected. If bees are dying through contaminated nectar, us humans eat the whole fruit or vegetable and are at the very end of the food chain.


Pesticides linked to bee decline, say green groups | Environment |

New evidence that pesticide could be killing bees – Rob Edwards


27/11/13 Having received a takedown notice from the Independent newspaper for a different posting, I have reviewed this article which links to an article at the Independent’s website in order to attempt to ensure conformance with copyright laws.

I consider this posting to comply with copyright laws since
a. Only a small portion of the original article has been quoted satisfying the fair use criteria, and / or
b. This posting satisfies the requirements of a derivative work.

Please be assured that this blog is a non-commercial blog (weblog) which does not feature advertising and has not ever produced any income.


Continue ReadingNeonicotinoids and dying bees

image of black honeybees

Exclusive: Bees facing a poisoned spring

New kind of pesticide, widely used in UK, may be helping to kill off the world’s honeybees

By Michael McCarthy, Environment Editor

A new generation of pesticides is making honeybees far more susceptible to disease, even at tiny doses, and may be a clue to the mysterious colony collapse disorder that has devastated bees across the world, the US government’s leading bee researcher has found. Yet the discovery has remained unpublished for nearly two years since it was made by the US Department of Agriculture’s Bee Research Laboratory.

The release of such a finding from the American government’s own bee lab would put a major question mark over the use of neonicotinoid insecticides – relatively new compounds which mimic the insect-killing properties of nicotine, and which are increasingly used on crops in the US, Britain and around the world.

Bayer, the German chemicals giant which developed the insecticides and makes most of them, insists that they are safe for bees if used properly, but they have already been widely linked to bee mortality. The US findings raise questions about the substance used in the bee lab’s experiment, imidacloprid, which was Bayer’s top-selling insecticide in 2009, earning the company £510m. The worry is that neonicotinoids, which are neurotoxins – that is, they attack the central nervous system – are also “systemic”, meaning they are taken up into every part of the plant which is treated with them, including the pollen and nectar. This means that bees and other pollinating insects can absorb them and carry them back to their hives or nests – even if they are not the insecticide’s target species.

Independent article continues

The Independent has a further good article on honeybees. Having discussed neonicotinoids with my Scientific Advisor we were wondering whether these neurotoxins – since they are systemic – remain in plant produce to affect humans. Logically, that would have to be the case…


27/11/13 Having received a takedown notice from the Independent newspaper for a different posting, I have reviewed this article which links to an article at the Independent’s website in order to attempt to ensure conformance with copyright laws.

I consider this posting to comply with copyright laws since
a. Only a small portion of the original article has been quoted satisfying the fair use criteria, and / or
b. This posting satisfies the requirements of a derivative work.

Please be assured that this blog is a non-commercial blog (weblog) which does not feature advertising and has not ever produced any income.


Continue Reading