Thursday, May 29, 2014

Neonics not the only cause of bee deaths

There’s a new research paper, published late last week, that says neonictinoid insecticides are not the only reason why bee colonies are dying.

In fact, bees were in decline before farmers began using neonictinoids as seed treatments.

The paper was published by a group of international scientists, including a University of Guelph professor Nigel Raine. They say we need an evidence-based debate on the role of neonictinoids.

Raine was recently chosen to take the Rebanks Family Chair in Pollinator Conservation at the University of Guelph.

The team of scientists says the causes of global bee decline are likely the result of multiple factors, including habitat, parasites and diseases, weather conditions, agriculture intensification and the use of pesticides.

They argue that while pesticide exposure may be a factor, other sources such as bee diseases could be equally important.

They believe that banning or restricting use of neonics would likely not reverse bee colony decline, noting that pollinator numbers were falling before these insecticides were introduced in the 1990s.

A ban could, in fact, discourage farmers from growing certain crops that pollinators need to thrive, they say.

Of course, Terry Daynard, who farms near Guelph, said the same things months ago. Bee keepers and urban activists who enjoy pillaring modern farming methods didn't like his message.