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article imagePesticides killing off queen bee numbers in UK and France

By Kev Hedges     Mar 30, 2012 in Science
Pesticides used in the UK and France are damaging the ability of bees to navigate and the number of queen bees is in serious decline as a result. Scientists studied the use of pesticides called neonicotinoids, which are used throughout the world.
The UK-based scientists found queen bee numbers had reduced by a staggering 85 percent. The bee decline means crop yields are down in many countries. It has been estimated that in the UK alone, pollination is worth £430 million ($690m) to the national economy.
The US has also seen huge reductions in bee numbers. From the end of the summer 2006, some beekeepers reported seeing losses of around 30 percent and some cases saw as much as 90 percent. Colony losses are common during winter months in the US and Europe but the sheer magnitude of the bee decline has taken beekeepers by surprise. The syndrome, known as Colony Collapse Disorder has been blamed on a number of reasons such as diseases, parasites, reduction in the range of flowers growing wild in the countryside, pesticides, or all of the above, reports the BBC Science.
The neonicotinoids investigated by the scientists and reported in the journal Science, are regularly used on crops such as cereals, rape seed oil and sunflowers. Researchers at the University of Stirling had fed bee colonies with doses of a neonicotinoid used on maize and oil seed rape. Their findings saw an 85 percent reduction in the bee population, reports Farmers Weekly.
Prior to these findings the US Department of Agriculture had commissioned the Agricultural Research Service to discover the cause or causes of Colony Collapse Disorder and develop ways for beekeepers to respond to the problem.
More about queen bee, Pollen, Pesticides
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