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Earth Science

Wildflowers Give Bees a Dose of Pesticides 38

JMarshall writes: Wildflowers growing near fields sown with pesticide-treated seeds can be reservoirs of bee-harming neonicotinoid compounds, according to new research. The study suggests bees get most of their exposure to these pesticides from wildflowers, rather than from the crops the pesticides are designed to protect. At the peak of flowering season, 97% of the pollen brought back to beehives tested in the UK came from wildflowers, not the canola crops they were growing alongside.
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Wildflowers Give Bees a Dose of Pesticides

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    Let's completely ignore that the large scale data shows that banning neonicotonoids didn't have ANY affect on the bee population in Europe. Though there's a huge amount of media-induced blame, a continent-wide experiment demonstrated that they aren't a significant factor, after much smaller scale studies showed the same thing. Now Europeans are using pesticides that are worse for the environment because they are less specific to the particular pests.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 20, 2015 @10:55AM (#50765611)

      Since it persists in the environment, banning neonicotonoids isn't going to have an effect for many years.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Let's completely ignore that the large scale data shows that banning neonicotonoids didn't have ANY affect on the bee population in Europe.

      If you're going to challenge the science in this paper, challenge the science in this paper. "But ... but ... this other data seems contradictory to anecdotes I have" is not a valid scientific critique, which probably explains why your works critical of scientific studies aren't published.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Let's completely ignore that the large scale data shows that banning neonicotonoids didn't have ANY affect on the bee population in Europe.

      Neonicotinoids are not banned in Europe, so this data does not exist.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Gr8Apes ( 679165 )
      IIRC, it took something like 20 years before the effects of DDT were removed enough from the environment to be measured. Just because you sat in the bottom of the latrine for years doesn't mean 1 shower washes the stink off of you.
    • by NatasRevol ( 731260 ) on Tuesday October 20, 2015 @12:12PM (#50766053) Journal

      At least one expert disagrees with you.

      "Dr Lynn Dicks, a biodiversity and ecosystem services research fellow at the University of Cambridge, told the Science Media Centre: "We now have robust evidence that neonicotinoids have a serious impact on free-living bumblebee colonies in real farmed landscapes."

      http://www.bbc.com/news/scienc... [bbc.com]

  • Is seems pretty clear now that an outright ban on neonicotinoids is what is is called for here. The overall effect in bee population in countries that use is versus ones that don't combined with the detectable presence in honey and now this show that even controlled use is has too many unexpected side effects. The mere benefit of improved pest control efficiency is not worth this danger.
    • by tinkerton ( 199273 ) on Tuesday October 20, 2015 @11:16AM (#50765757)

      I think that one lesson of this research is that since bees get their honey not just from the targeted crops it's generally worth to try and contain the pesticides better. That means taking in account wind, drop size, delivery method. In fact it could mean that the pesticides on the targeted crops are the least of your concerns. Which is interesting.

      • by Gr8Apes ( 679165 )

        it's generally worth to try and contain the pesticides better.

        If you just read TFS, you'd see that the seeds were treated. I am not sure how much more contained the pesticide can be.

        Just another one of those unforeseen consequences of moving ahead full speed and oh, is that an ice berg?

        • But my comment is not about treated seeds. It's about general practice. I'm not saying general practice will make a large difference in this case. What I am saying is that if you have bees next to cropland then still use strict rules for the road shoulders.

          • by Gr8Apes ( 679165 )

            1) I don't know how much more restrictive you can be than to treat the seeds prior to planting. The problem is leeching, which will happen with anything water soluble, which just about all pesticides are.

            2) To take that "strict" approach would mean to essentially create a bucket for crop land, because it has to be isolated from everything else. These pesticides are just flat out nasty in ways that apparently don't become evident until after widespread enough use causes effects that can take years to rever

      • The problem is seeds leave a bit of chaff in the seed bin when planting and when planting treated seeds you get a lot of insecticidal dust with that too. When that "dust" is dumped at the edge of a field with the wildflowers/weeds the bees pick it up.

        The solution to this problem is, I'm not kidding, just dump the seed bin's dust and chaff in the middle of the field where bees don't care to forage.

    • Ok, so ban neonics and replace them with what? Carbamates? Oranophosphates? Pyretheroids? Avermectins? Pretty much everything is horrible for bees. The neonics are some of the least harmful to them; they can at least shrug some low dosages off. Generally speaking runoff in water from farmland should have dinotefuran or imidicloprid at a concentration around 7ppm and they're not acutely toxic until you get to around 150ppm. Chronic poisioning can happen at 50ppm but that's still 7 times higher than what

  • by willworkforbeer ( 924558 ) on Tuesday October 20, 2015 @11:11AM (#50765715)
    Monsanto has demanded licensing payments for every jar sold of Pesticide Honey (TM).
  • There is a simple solution. We can just kill all the wildflowers. A good dose of roundup or gasoline 50ft around the perimeter of the field should do the trick

    • by Anonymous Coward

      We can just kill all the wildflowers. A good dose of roundup or gasoline 50ft around the perimeter of the field should do the trick

      That is actually a real corporate farming strategy, supposedly driven by the demands of food sellers. Farm in a doughnut hole of fertile land surrounded by a sterilized wasteland.

      Unsurprisingly, it doesn't work [typinganimal.net]. And yes, they really do use glyophosate (roundup) if you were wondering how come there's so much of that showing up in our food.

  • Don't do what the researchers did by placing bee hives right next to fields that are sprayed with pesticides.
  • So... the poison is everywhere!
  • I work in Ag, which is probably a bit rare around here, and I also happen to be a pesticide applicator. Granted, greenhouse industry, not much field farming, but this is an issue that affects us too, if only for PR reasons.

    This exact scenario was explained to me about a year ago from an entomologist from MSU working in their Ag extension. Dr. Smitely is his name if anybody wants to double-check my memory or look into what else the guy has to say about neonics and bees.

    His take on this issue was pretty sim

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