News / USA

Pesticides Contribute to Decline in World's Bee Population

Raising Crops Linked to Declining Bee Population Worldwidei
X
June 13, 2013 7:28 PM
A steady decline in the overall honeybee population year to year is a growing problem worldwide. The decreasing bee population could contribute to a dramatic increase in commodity prices for goods dependent upon pollination by honeybees. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from Illinois, researchers continue to study the decline as beekeepers are struggling to keep their colonies, and their profits, alive.
Raising Crops Linked to Declining Bee Population Worldwide
Kane Farabaugh
A steady decline in the overall honeybee population year to year is a growing problem worldwide. The decreasing bee population could contribute to a dramatic increase in commodity prices for goods dependent upon pollination by honeybees. Researchers continue to study the decline as beekeepers are struggling to keep their colonies, and their profits, alive.

Terrence Ingram considers himself a naturalist. He said he’s best able to commune with the natural world around him at the center of a swarm... of bees. “I love beekeeping. It’s one of God’s greatest miracles."

Since 1954, Ingram has raised tens of thousands of honeybees in managed colonies behind his house in rural Apple River, Illinois.

“We had 250 hives at one time. We sold five, six tons of honey a year,” said Ingram.

Falling honey supplies

But that amount is dwindling. "Now we’re down to about probably four tons." And that's not because the 73-year-old Ingram is slowing down, but because he says there are fewer bees producing honey, something he blames on the use of insecticides and herbicides in the farmland surrounding his property. The gradual decline in his bee population began in 1996.

“Every three weeks that summer, they were spraying with the airplane, and by the end of the year, I didn’t have any of my 250 hives left,” he said.

This phenomenon caught the attention of researchers like Purdue University Entomology Professor Christian Krupke.

“There have been similar reports from Europe in the past, and so we looked into it a little bit further from the point of view of wondering first of all what is killing these bees, and second how are these bees acquiring whatever this toxic chemical is,” said Krupke.

There are many reasons for the worldwide bee decline, not just insecticides.

But in this instance, Krupke and his colleagues focused on insecticides - known as neonicotinoids - that adhere to the seeds as they are planted in the ground, rather than from spraying above.

“The two compounds that kept coming up when we tested these dead bees were the pesticides clothianidin and thiamethoxam. Those are insecticides that are applied to corn seed. The key route for those acute bee kills that we have seen in past years and again this year is the planter exhaust. The talc that contacts seed and then is exhausted,” said Krupke.

Omitting insecticides

About 30 years ago, there were about 4 million of these kind of managed bee colonies throughout the United States. Today, there are less than 2 million, and researchers say that’s due in part to the introduction of these insecticides.

“Can we get by without neonicotinoids insecticides in these field crops? I think we can. I believe we have data that show that we can. So that’s maybe something that’s a little more promising as far as reducing the stress on the honeybee population,” said Krupke.

In December, the European Union plans to ban the use of certain insecticides researchers linked to bee deaths. But no such restrictions are planned in the United States. For Illinois beekeeper Ingram, some of the damage already done is permanent.

“We’ve got many bee keepers who have quit, just gone out of business because they can’t succeed,” he said.

But not Ingram, who said his passion for bees is just as strong as it was when he tended his first colony, more than 60 years ago.

You May Like

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the US are seeing gas prices dip below $3 a gallon More

Afghan Women's Soccer Team Building for the Future

A four-team female league was recently set up in Kabul; It will help identify players for the national team More

Video Koreas on Edge Amid Live-fire Drills

Pyongyang threatens nuclear test as joint US, S. Korean exercises show forces’ capabilities More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Av from: Fl
June 16, 2013 11:17 AM
We live in SW Florida. Our neighbor threw out a half dead purple bougainvillea. The lure of saving the plant was too strong due to my love of the flowering varieties and the joy I experience in propagating, especially those with the chance of proliferating such beautiful blooms.

That gorgeous purple bougainvillea is now thriving in it's new home, my yard. Since replanting this free 6ft tall topiary with its color of such reverence and royalty, PURPLE, we have had a problem with bees. We have had the beekeepers out numerous times. The most recent colony was easily 800,000 bees. This is in a residential neighborhood, so needless to say, this swarm was threatening to our neighborhood, elderly, children, dogs, etc....but, most alarming to our home, besides the constant expense to remove them and the fact they blocked our cars and front entry to our home, my husband is deathly allergic to bee stings. One bee sting could have him rushed to the hospital, we are now on a mission to get the word out about bee colonies successes and also the dangers around the color purple.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
New Skateboard Defies Gravityi
X
November 21, 2014 5:07 AM
A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid