News / Science & Technology

Plant Fungicide Might Hurt Honeybees

Plant Fungicide Might Hurt Honeybeesi
X
August 13, 2013 2:07 PM
A widely used chemical used to fight plant disease is hurting honeybees in an unexpected way, according to new research. As Megan McGrath reports for VOA, it may be contributing to the widespread loss of honeybees that pollinate many fruits, vegetables, nuts and other crops.
Megan McGrath
A widely used chemical used to fight plant disease is hurting honeybees in an unexpected way, according to new research, and may be contributing to the widespread loss of honeybees that pollinate many fruits, vegetables, nuts and other crops.

Die out

Honeybee hives in the United States and elsewhere are dying and researchers are trying to understand why.

“The number of colonies that die every winter has been one in three," said Dennis VanEngelsdorp at the University of Maryland. "So on average 30 percent of the colonies have died every winter over the last six winters. And that’s an astronomical number.”

VanEngelsdorp's research team examined the pollen that honeybees carried to their hives, and found that it was contaminated with high doses of 35 different pesticides. They also found that eating certain fungicides made bees more susceptible to infection by Nosema, a deadly microbe.
 
But fungicides are essential to US agriculture, according to pesticide industry researcher Mike Leggett, with CropLife America.

"Fungicides are used, and have been used, pretty broadly, for centuries, for protection of plants from plant disease,” Leggett said.

He also points out that many of the other pesticides VanEngelsdorp found in the pollen actually made the bees less likely to be infected with Nosema.
 
“I think it’s interesting research that adds to the body of research that’s available, but I’m not really sure that the conclusions reached were… you know, well-supported,” he said.
 
Multiple stressors

Maryland farmer and beekeeper Keith Ohlinger has watched his bees die every winter. Researchers are investigating the effects of a variety of factors, including pesticides, diseases and malnutrition. Many people, including Ohlinger, think widespread bee death is caused by many different stresses at once.
 
“What I felt it was, was a compilation of a lot of little things," said Ohlinger. "I didn’t feel that there was probably one smoking gun. But there’s a division there, some people feel that it is just one thing.”
 
He does feel sure pesticides are a part of the problem.

“Maybe I’m just not educated enough, I don’t know, but my view is, if you can take a bath in it, it’s probably safe," he said. "And I don’t know many of the things that they’re putting out right now that anybody would come out of a bath in for any length of time and go, ‘Wow, that was great, I feel much better!’ You know?”
 
Honeybees are essential to agriculture. This makes the search for an answer to the bee die-off especially urgent for VanEngelsdorp's team.

“One in every three bites of food we eat are directly or indirectly pollinated by honeybees. So without honeybees, we wouldn’t have that variety in our diet,” said VanEngelsdorp.
 
Even as a third of the country's food supply depends on honeybees, a third of those bees continue to die each winter.

You May Like

Video Experts Warn World Losing Ebola Fight

Doctors Without Borders says world is losing battle against Ebola, unless wealthy nations dispatch specialized biological disaster response teams More

Video Experts: Rise of Islamic State Significant Development in Jihadism

Many analysts contend the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years More

US-Based Hong Kongers Pledge Support for Pro-Democracy Activists

Democracy advocates call on Chinese living abroad to join them in opposing new election rules for their home territory More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
August 11, 2013 10:30 PM
I have heard Nosema for the first time. I learned online nosema is a serious disease for honey bees which has no effective treatment. To increase the number of honey bees, import is one choice for bee keepers. It is reported that import from Australia has been once prohibited in Japan because Austaralian bees were found to be infected by nosema. I hope effective treatment for nosema would be developed as early as possible. Thank you.


by: Kitagawa Keiko from: Daikanyama,TKO
August 10, 2013 7:11 PM
I'm surprised that one in three honeybees have been dying over the last six years.
That means total number of honeybees is approximately 1/700 compared with that six years ago.
But does our foods reduce to 1/700 from six years ago ?
Are we affected the dies of honeybees ?

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearancei
X
Elizabeth Lee
September 02, 2014 8:57 PM
Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearance

Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Experts See Rise of ISIS as Significant Development

The Islamic State’s rise seems sudden. It caught the U.S. by surprise this summer when it captured large portions of northern Iraq and spread its wings in neighboring Syria. But many analysts contend that the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years. VOA's Jela de Franceschi takes a closer look at the rise of ISIS and its implications for the Middle East and beyond.
Video

Video Israel Concerned Over Syrian Rebels in Golan

Israeli officials are following with concern the recent fighting between Syrian rebels and government forces near the contested Golan Heights. Forty-four U.N. peacekeepers from Fiji have been seized by Syrian Islamist rebels and the clashes occasionally have spilled into Israel. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.

AppleAndroid