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Today’s number: 60 percent

Monday, Apr 25, 2016

* Illinois Issues takes a deep dive

Last year, 60 percent of Illinois beehives collapsed, devastating beekeepers and putting our favorite fruits and vegetables at risk.” Bees are an important source for honey, but in addition to that, 30 percent of crops worldwide depend on them for pollination according to a 2011 NRDC report. In America, that equals about $15 billion a year in crops. “Without bees, many plants including food crops would die off,” the report says.

Democratic Rep. Will Guzzardi of Chicago introduced House Bill 5900, which would make it illegal to use neonictinoids on public land and for residential use. Currently, seven states restrict the use of neonictinoids. Rep. Guzzardi says: “Home Depot and Lowe’s are no longer selling anything that contains neonics, and the grocery store, Aldi, is not selling any foods that have been sprayed with neonics. It is time for the government to step up and join these private corporations’ efforts.”

* Now, check out the careful wording of this statement by a neonictinoid producer

Jeff Donald — a spokesman for the German chemical company Bayer, which patented the first commercial neonicotinoid and currently manufactures the globally used chemical Syngenta — said in a written statement: “Although bee health is an important concern, honey bee colonies are not declining, and U.S. colonies have steadily risen over the past decade, reaching 2.74 million in 2014, the highest level in many years. Scientists around the world have affirmed the safety of these products to pollinators and consumers when used according to label. A ban on neonicotinoids would only hurt those who depend on these products.”

Notice, the flack didn’t talk about the number of bees, just the number of colonies. The actual bee population is in alarming decline

These statements stand in stark contrast to what bee experts have observed, says Gene Robinson, director of the Bee Research Facility at the University of Illinois Urbana–Champaign. He says the latest national numbers show a 40 percent reduction in the bee population since last year.

* But

While experts agree that cutting the use of these pesticides could help bees, they also note that neonictinoids are only one of multiple threats. Pollinator experts are clear that banning the use of neonicotinoids would not solve the problem.

Robinson says there is no single smoking gun that is causing the honeybees to die. “The declining bee population is a four-part problem: Neonictinoids are harmful to pollinators. Honeybees need to be nutritionally healthier. We need more pollinator acreage, and we need to combat the varroa mite,” Robinson says. Varroa mites carry disease that can devastate bee colonies. Robinson says, the mite and the Asian bee have an “evolutionary live-and-let live relationship.” But he says, “the mite and western honeybee do not share this live-and-let-live understanding, and the mite is killing honeybees in record numbers.”

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Ahoy! - Monday, Apr 25, 16 @ 10:48 am:

    This is one of those items that should be regulated and makes sense for Illinois to protect bee’s. If Ag is our top industry, we should be protecting it, plus people need to eat and we need to be able to grow food for people to do that. Seems like basic common sense to me.

  2. - Honeybear - Monday, Apr 25, 16 @ 10:52 am:

    I am all for this. I’ve totally noticed that the bees are gone. That is except for the carpenter bees which are eating my house alive. You can hit them with a thermonuclear blast and they would merely flinch. My girls do a brisk business killing them at 50 cents a head.

  3. - River Leigh - Monday, Apr 25, 16 @ 10:57 am:

    Absolutely neonics should be restricted!
    Not only for honeybees’ sake: there are approximately 300 other species of native bees in Illinois, including at least six species of bumblebees. They are also endangered by neonics and loss of habitat, among other things. Bumblebees do a better job of pollinating tomatoes than honeybees, and squash bees pollinate pumpkins.

  4. - Very Old Soil - Monday, Apr 25, 16 @ 10:58 am:

    Not to be too picky…but Syngenta is not a pesticide. It is a Swiss-based pesticide manufacturer! Probably will be bought soon by a Chinese firm.

  5. - Amalia - Monday, Apr 25, 16 @ 11:11 am:

    yep, restrict the pesticides. but it’s a complicated problem

    so everyone should do their individual part to help. stop using chemicals at your house, yes, including your lawn. you can make the transition to organic lawn care—products readily available. Plant things that attract and help bees and butterflies, generally plants with teeny flower heads. I have used Gardens Alive, based out of state. for all sorts of products and ideas. also found products at several suburban Chicago greenhouses.

    you have to work harder, in some respects, growing things to eat, but doing it without chemicals is better for you and all.

  6. - Biker - Monday, Apr 25, 16 @ 11:12 am:

    “Last year, 60 percent of Illinois beehives collapsed, putting fruits and vegetables at risk… 30 percent of crops worldwide depend on [Bees] for pollination according to a 2011 NRDC report. Without bees, many plants including food crops would die off.”

    “experts agree that cutting the use of these pesticides could help bees”

    This is the point of having a government, any government.

  7. - NoGifts - Monday, Apr 25, 16 @ 11:16 am:

    “bees” and “honeybees” are not the same thing. There are over 4,000 species of native bees. And most of our area is a food desert to native bees. People kill all the “weeds” that support them. That’s another bee killer.

  8. - Formerpol - Monday, Apr 25, 16 @ 11:16 am:

    After WW II Bayer merged with the IG Farben Chemical Company - and history knows what kind of ‘disinfectant’ chemicals they manufactured!!

  9. - NoGifts - Monday, Apr 25, 16 @ 11:19 am:

    Keep the creeping charlie and dandelions. Bees love them.

  10. - Jamey Dunn - Monday, Apr 25, 16 @ 11:33 am:

    -Very Old Soil
    Thanks for pointing that out, a correction has been made.

  11. - siriusly - Monday, Apr 25, 16 @ 11:39 am:

    Bee colony collapse.
    Great barrier reef bleaching (dying) at an alarming rate.

    These are symptoms of our world’s ecosystems that may be dying due human activity. Trump and Rauner can deny climate change all they want - but these two things alone are real symptoms that will have terrible consequences for our planet.

    Guzzardi’s bill is good, but does not go far enough. Neonics are not the only contributors to colony collapse.

  12. - vole - Monday, Apr 25, 16 @ 12:28 pm:

    The huge offender by far is not even touched with this legislation — the neonicotinoid seed treatments applied to millions of acres of field corn and soybeans.

  13. - Formerly Known As... - Monday, Apr 25, 16 @ 12:48 pm:

    We have some fruit trees in the yard. Last year was the first time a number of them did not bear fruit.

    Neonictinoids are not the only problem, but reducing their use will help bees recover and let more of those little pollinators work their magic.

  14. - vole - Monday, Apr 25, 16 @ 12:53 pm:

    I would like to cite a couple of references to back up my previous post about the extensive use of these insecticides as seed treatments in corn and soy production:

    “Newly Published Report Confirms Extensive Use of Insecticidal Seed Treatments in Field Crops”

    “Widespread occurrence of neonicotinoid insecticides in streams in a
    high corn and soybean producing region, USA”

    As with a lot of environmental issues effected by big Ag, this one seems to be sliding conveniently below the radar.

  15. - 47th Ward - Monday, Apr 25, 16 @ 12:58 pm:

    Let’s try to look on the bright side. Do you have any idea how many people will need to be hired to manually pollinate all of the food and vegetables we grow? Think of the unskilled minimum wage jobs that will be created when the last of the bees shuffles off to the Great Hive in the Sky.

    Invest in ladders and small paint brushes. We’re going to need millions of them.

  16. - Anon221 - Monday, Apr 25, 16 @ 12:59 pm:

    Lots of info on xeres site about all types of pollinators and what individuals can do-

  17. - Cable Line Beer Gardener - Monday, Apr 25, 16 @ 1:00 pm:

    Last year we had about 29 inches of rain in 45 days. The farmer who cash rented our land lost money on the crop….this year this city person applied and was accepted into the USDA pollinator habitat program.

  18. - Anon221 - Monday, Apr 25, 16 @ 1:15 pm:

  19. - blue dog dem - Monday, Apr 25, 16 @ 1:19 pm:

    The drop in the bee population can be directly attributed to the loss of Oreo production to Mexico. ….

  20. - Anon221 - Monday, Apr 25, 16 @ 1:29 pm:

    Blue dog dem- still in withdrawal? ;)

  21. - the Cardinal - Monday, Apr 25, 16 @ 1:42 pm:

    That’s it…this year I let my lawn go all dandelions…Honey badger gotta eat to. Better hand out more Epi pens at schools though !

  22. - A Watcher - Monday, Apr 25, 16 @ 1:49 pm:

    Everybody like bees. Maybe, just maybe, we should have all the facts before the state regulates another issue. The US EPA has not even finished their risk assessment on neonics. Heck, the proposed bill says let’s regulate the product and THEN have the Dept of Ag study the issue. That’s regulating by feelings not facts.

  23. - vole - Monday, Apr 25, 16 @ 2:01 pm:

    A Watcher: Some of the facts:

    “Neonicotinoids are receiving increased scrutiny since they have been implicated in adversely affecting pollinators and linked to colony collapse disorder in bees (Spivak et al., 2011; vanEngelsdorp et al., 2009). Thiamethoxam has been linked to decreased survival in honeybees (Henry et al., 2012), while imidacloprid has been linked to reduced colony growth and queen performance in bumble bees(Whitehorn et al., 2012) and sublethal affects to flies (Charpentier
    et al., 2014). An important mechanism of neurotoxicity for neon-icotinoids is the almost irreversible binding to nicotinic acetylcho-line receptors in insects (Jeschke and Nauen, 2008). Therefore,continued exposures to neonicotinoids may lead to a cumulative effect in insects (Tennekes and Sanchez-Bayo, 2011). Birds are also
    susceptible to neonicotinoid exposure, including both the direct ingestion of treated seeds and through contamination of the aquatic food chain (Mineau and Palmer, 2013). There is evidence that
    neonicotinoids can cause immune suppression in insects (bees) and in fish (Di Prisco et al., 2013; Mason et al., 2013). In 2013, the Euro-
    pean Commission adopted a proposal to restrict the use of 3 neon-icotinoids (clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiamethoxam) for a
    period of 2 years, including their use for seed treatment (EU, 2013).
    In the environment, neonicotinoids are highly soluble in water … and somewhat persistent (Table 1), with clothianidin having the longest soil degradation half-life (545 days).”

    From the research I cited above:

  24. - A Watcher - Monday, Apr 25, 16 @ 2:50 pm:

    vole — I don’t dispute your research. However, the US EPA has stated honey bee loss is a “complex interaction among multiple stressors”. Additionally, the US EPA’s most recent risk assessment on imidacloprid (a major neonic) indicates it maybe safe up to 25 ppb and are driven the attractiveness of the crop to the pollinator. I am just saying the primary federal regulator has not completed its recommendations and this bill proposes banning the product.

  25. - FormerParatrooper - Monday, Apr 25, 16 @ 4:21 pm:

    Nothing wrong with stopping the use of neonicotiniods. Yes there is a complex interaction of many stressors. We start with one of those stressors and go down the line. Otherwise we lose more bees. We need tbe bees.

  26. - IBE - Monday, Apr 25, 16 @ 4:25 pm:

    My daughters have recently attended a pollinator conference and will be planting a pollinator garden this year to help our honeybees, butterflies and the like.
    Everyone can do their part!

  27. - Huh? - Monday, Apr 25, 16 @ 4:37 pm:

    “The complex interactions among multiple stressor.”

    I like that bit of nonsensical pseudo scientific babble.

    That is like a doctor telling an obese patient, laying in a hospital bed recovering from a widow maker heart attack, that their sedintary lifestyle of no excerise, poor diet, family history of heart disease, stroke, diabetes is a complex interaction of multiple stressors.

    The current mono-culture systems has denuded the landscape of the variety of pollen sources necessary for bee survival.

    Adding a stressor such as neonics, which are taken back to the hives, incorporated into the honey only adds to the potential for catastrophic bee population collapse.

    Saying that a toxic substance is safe up to 25 ppb ignores the commutative effects of the chemical. Take lead in drinking water. The USEPA says that the action level is greater than 15 ppm. So obviously, it is safe to drink water with lead levels at 15 ppm. Well tell that to the people in Flint Michigan.

    The economic benefits that come from bees is too great to ignore. Too much depends on bee pollination to say that neonics are not contribute to the decline in bee population.

  28. - blue dog dem - Monday, Apr 25, 16 @ 4:39 pm:

    Anon221. Yes. Hydrox are hard to get here.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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