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

Lion Cecil's Killing Sparks 'Canned Hunting' Debate in S. Africa

Conservationists believe incident, which triggered worldwide outrage, will reshape debate about practice in which hunters are allowed to target animals bred for hunting More

Taliban's New Leader Says Jihad Will Continue

Top US Afghan diplomat also meets with Pakistani, Afghan officials following news of Mullah Omar's death More

Environmentalists Issue Warning on Mekong Biodiversity

Scientists say decades of economic development, hydropower-dam construction, lax law enforcement and trafficking have taken their toll 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.
Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missionsi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
July 30, 2015 8:59 PM
Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.

VOA Blogs