In the last few years, there has been growing concern over the decreasing number of domestic honey bees, and a number of theories have been put forward about North America’s shrinking bee population.
Some have suggested it has to do with climate change, or tainted food, and others have suggested it may be caused by the pesticides we’re using.
A recent study lends credibility to the claim that our pesticide use is harming bees; specifically, the chemicals commonly found in insecticides, imidacloprid and clothianidin.
In 2012, the Worchester County Beekeepers Association monitored bee colonies in different locations between October 2012 and April 2013. At each location, the researchers separated the bees into three different groups, one exposed to imidacloprid, one exposed to clothianidin, and one wasn’t exposed to either chemical. As they monitored the bees, the researchers found that the bees colonies treated with the chemicals did not increase during the spring, like they would have expected. Instead half of the colonies exposed to the chemicals were lost.
Although it appears as though insecticide use has an effect on bee colonies, the researchers were not able to find out exactly what effect the chemicals have.