Honeybee population has been on a mass decline for the past six years, and this dramatic decrease has been blamed on the exposure to a certain class of insecticide which causes them to die from Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), a new study reveals.
The report, which was released Friday in the Bulletin of Insectology, recreates a 2012 study which first linked the bee-killing disease to neonicotinoids. The team of researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health who initially conducted the 2012 study ran this later one, and their findings support their earlier findings.According to lead author Chensheng (Alex) Lu, “We demonstrated again in this study that neonicotinoids are highly likely to be responsible for triggering CCD in honey bee hives that were healthy prior to the arrival of winter.”
The researchers examined 18 bee colonies in three different locations in central Massachusetts. They split each colony into three smaller groups – one treated with a neonicotinoid called imidacloprid, one with a neonicotinoid called clothiandin, and one was not treated with anything to serve as the control group. The researchers watched the groups from October 2012 to April 2013 and found that, by the end of that period, half of the neonicotinoid colonies had been killed, while only one in the control colonies were destroyed by a common intestinal parasite, Nosema cerenae.
None of the honeybees were affected until winter, the others wrote, “We found honey bee colonies in both control and neonicotinoid-treated groups progressed almost identically, and observed no acute morbidity or mortality in either group until the arrival of winter… As temperatures began to decrease in late October 2012, we observed a steady decrease of bee cluster size in both control and neonicotinoid-treated hives continued to decline.
The loss of honeybees is alarming and of concern to many as they pollinate roughly one-third of all crops, globally, and up to 80 percent of U.S. crops. Lu mentioned, “future research could help elucidate the biological mechanism that is responsible for linking sub-lethal neonicotinoid exposures to CCD.”