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Friday, 6 August 2010

Bees In My Bonnet

Pesticides are designed to be sprayed over plants, to fix on them, to affect and to penetrate the plants they are designed to eliminate. Down the decades it has become apparent that they may eliminate other things as well and can have a catastrophic effect on the health of those exposed to them.

Sometimes this takes larger amounts of contamination but in many cases very small amounts will do the damage if they impact sufficiently.

The article below refers to bees. In their case the obvious suspect for doing the damage is one form of pesticide or another and this is addressed by the research.

It is a pity that research is not being done on products that are chemically closely related to pesticides, notably synthetic and processed fragrances now so common. They have the same design characteristics as pesticides with certain differences.

They are designed to adhere almost indefinitely and to transfer from one surface to another, again in series. Also, many now, notably for males, are supposed to be aggressive in their impact on the human sense of smell and brain. Another major feature is that they are made to carry significant distances.

A critical part of the bee’s way of life is to find its way round on the basis of scent. So anywhere that is polluted with fragrance particulates and related chemicals has to affect their functioning.

Much in the same way that traffic emissions and the ultra fine particles, whose basis is in many of the same petrol-chemicals can affect people adversely and maybe the bees.

As Shakespeare said, “Where the bee sucks there suck I.”


‘Growing body of evidence’ links pesticides to bee decline.

Ecologist - 5th August, 2010

Government and retailers, including B&Q and Wyevale, under pressure to impose a ban on sale of pesticides linked to bee population decline following new research.

Environmental groups including the Soil Association and Buglife are making a renewd call for an end to the use of neonicotinoid pesticides, which are among the most commonly used pesticides worldwide, after a new study linked them to a decline in bee in bee populations.

The study, published in the journal Toxicology, says the effects on bees of two particular neonicotinoid pesticides, known as imidacloprid and thiacloprid, have previously been underestimated and may explain the decline in bee populations.

It says even low concentrations of the pesticides may be more deadly then previously thought due to their high persistence in soil and water, supporting claims for the role that pesticides may play in bee deaths.

‘The acceptable limits are based mainly on short-term tests. If long-term studies were to be carried out, far lower concentrations may turn out to be hazardous. This explains why minute quantities of imidacloprid may induce bee decline in the long run,’ says study author Dr. Henk Tennekes.

Calls for a ban

Buglife campaigner Vicky Kindemba has welcomed the new research, saying it adds support to calls for a suspension in the use of the pesticides in the UK.

‘This new information adds to the growing body of evidence that neonicotinoid pesticides are very harmful and even at extremely low levels in our environment they could still negatively impact on UK wildlife including pollinators, soil organisms and aquatic invertebrates,’ Kindemba said.

The Soil Association said other products containing the pesticides should also be withdrawn from general sale in UK supermarkets, hardware stores and garden centres.

‘If the honeybee disappeared off the surface of the globe forever we’d be facing up to an unimaginable food crisis,' said a spokesperson. 'This latest research only adds to the evidence that is already strong enough to justify an immediate ban on neonicotinoids today.'

The campaign group has written to the chief executives of B&Q, Wilkinson's and Wyevale asking them to withdraw any products containing neonicotinoid pesticides from their store.

Government disregards warning

Responding to the new study, Defra said the UK would not be following some other EU countries in restricting the use of neonicotinoids.

'This research highlights a need for more data on long-term risks to bee health. We have already been considering this and pesticide companies will soon need to provide this data under new EU rules.

'We will keep this area under review and will not hesitate to act if there is any evidence of an unacceptable risk to bees,' said a spokesperson.

Useful links

Full Study: The significance of the Druckrey–Küpfmüller equation for risk assessment — the toxicity of neonicotinoid insecticides to arthropods is reinforced by exposure time


So hanging out the washing to get the smell of flowers could well kill off the bees that would enable the natural flowers to grow.

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