It’s getting harder and harder for Bayer to continue to deny the link between neonicotinoids and bee decline, especially with this new study from Harvard. Unlike the “facts” from Bayer — which claims insecticides are perfectly harmless when it comes to bees — Harvard scientists have used actual field studies to come to their conclusions. Mother Jones called the report a “smoking gun” that targets the neonics imidacloprid and clothianidin as causes of Colony Collapse Disorder.
The study tracked the progress of 18 hives beginning in July 2012. Twelve hives were fed sublethal amounts of pesticides via sugar syrup over 13 weeks, and the other six hives were kept as controls. According to the report, all 18 hives exhibited similar behavior throughout the summer months, but during the winter, bees from six of the 12 contaminated colonies failed to return to their hives, demonstrating classic behavior of CCD. On the other hand, none of the control hives displayed signs of CCD, but one showed symptoms of nosema.
What’s exciting about this study is scientists were able to replicate Colony Collapse Disorder through the experiment. Previous tests — like the ones cited by Bayer — have just occurred in laboratories and often only focused on bees in one stage of life. The Harvard study actually administered the insecticide to full colonies from July through September and monitored their response.
However, it could be said that the sample size in this latest study was too small. Jeff Pettis from the USDA said an 18-colony study was too small to confirm the link between neonicotinoids and CCD.(more…)