by Staci Goddard, December 24, 2015

The Washington Post several months back released an article that instructed the public to no longer distress themselves with thoughts of their favorite little insectoid pollinators (second to butterflies) being under threat of extinction at the hands of pesticides, particularly those of the neonicotinoid family, although other pesticide families and even certain fungicides also adversely impact bee populations.

What is the Reality of the Situation?

There are honeybees and bumblebees (pardon my gross over-simplification). The European honeybee has been domesticated, and these are reared commercially for use in orchards and agriculture.  The pesticides and fungicides used in agriculture have individually and/or in concert harmed bees of all types.  This harm has revealed itself in a variety of forms:

This idea of bees being “threatened” by pesticides has also been a subject of controversy despite empirical evidence and peer-reviewed scientific studies.  Part of the confusion involves the display of data in mainstream media.

 

The Washington Post article is orients on honeybees. Both honeybees and wild, bumblebees are important for agriculture and for ecosystems worldwide.  (If the bumblebee population declines, to what degree will there still be a global agricultural catastrophe?)  Nevertheless, the issue with bumblebees and pesticides was omitted.

Secondly, the article by Ingraham qualifies success by the total number of honeybees available.  If honeybees are still dying off at the same rate, but honeybee production doubles–then the total number remains the same.  Two can play at that game.

When CCD came along, it roughly doubled the usual annual rate of bee die-offs. But this doesn’t mean that bees are going extinct, just that beekeepers need to work a little harder to keep production up.  -Ingraham

So maybe commercially produced colonies of European honeybees won’t disappear soon, but this increased production of European honeybees is a “quick fix”–not the solution and certainly not the Happily Ever After…

From as much as we can gather:

  • The die-off rate has not decreased for European honeybees that are exposed to pesticides (and certain fungicides).
  • The die-off rate for bumblebees is still problematic