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posted by martyb on Saturday July 01 2017, @05:10AM   Printer-friendly
from the be-nice-to-bees dept.

The most extensive study to date on neonicotinoid pesticides concludes that they harm both honeybees and wild bees. Researchers said that exposure to the chemicals left honeybee hives less likely to survive over winter, while bumblebees and solitary bees produced fewer queens.

The study spanned 2,000 hectares across the UK, Germany and Hungary and was set up to establish the "real-world" impacts of the pesticides. The results are published in Science [open, DOI: 10.1126/science.aaa1190] [DX]. Neonicotinoids were placed under a temporary ban in Europe in 2013 after concerns about their impact on bees. The European Commission told the BBC that it intends to put forward a new proposal to further restrict the use of the chemicals.

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  • (Score: 2) by butthurt on Saturday July 01 2017, @07:03PM (1 child)

    by butthurt (6141) on Saturday July 01 2017, @07:03PM (#533967) Journal

    > This is insect poison, without which we can't feed 8 billion people.

    There are other options besides using insecticides exactly as we are now, or not using them at all. Neonicotinoids have only been in use since the late 1990s; they replace less specific insecticides (which affect birds and mammals).

    > Most crops don't need bees.

    Wikipedia has a lengthy list of crops that are pollinated by bees. []

    [Wind] pollination is used by grasses, most conifers, and many deciduous trees. Hydrophily is pollination by water, and occurs in aquatic plants which release their pollen directly into the surrounding water. About 80% of all plant pollination is biotic.


    The number of managed beehives in the US has steadily declined from close to 6 million after WWII, to less than 2.5 million today. In contrast, the area dedicated to growing bee-pollinated crops has grown over 300% in the same time period. [...] At present, there is an enormous demand for beehive rentals that cannot always be met.

    -- []

    The cereals (rice, wheat, barley, corn/maize, oats, millet, rye, sorghum, etc.) are grasses so they don't need bees; certainly those are major crops, but a decline in pollinating insects could mean a shortage of other foods we might wish to eat. If what I read in Wikipedia is true, that's already happening.

    > If you put insect poison on bee-pollinated crops [...]

    The European Food Safety Authority recommended that neonicotinoids be restricted to use on crops not attractive to honey bees. []

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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 02 2017, @04:50AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 02 2017, @04:50AM (#534088)

    Tomatoes are self-fertile. The flower parts sort of crash into each other as they grow.

    Bananas, potatoes, and sweet potatoes are all vegetatively propagated. There are flowers, but we don't give a damn if they are pollinated.

    Vanilla is pollinated by people with electric toothbrushes. There is some sort of bug that could pollinate it, but that doesn't live in most of the places where we grow the crop.

    There are non-bee pollinator animals, including bats.

    And of course there is wind, as you mentioned. This happens to provide a huge portion of humanity's food. Grain is what feeds us, directly (starch, sugar, oil) and via meat.

    We wouldn't want a world without bees or a world without insecticides. If we had to choose, feeding 8 billion people is far easier without the bees than it is without the insecticides.