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Corn insecticide linked to great die-off of beneficial honeybees
New research has linked springtime die-offs of honeybees critical for pollinating food crops — part of the mysterious malady called colony collapse disorder — with technology for planting corn coated with insecticides. The study, published in ACS' journal Environmental Science & Technology, appears on the eve of spring planting seasons in some parts of Europe where farmers use the technology and widespread deaths of honeybees have occurred in the past.
Patents Online: Seed treatment with combinations of pyrethrins/pyrethroids and clothianidin
A method of preventing damage to the seed and/or shoots and foliage of a plant by a pest includes treating the seed from which the plant grows with a composition that includes a combination of clothianidin and at least one pyrethrin or synthetic pyrethroid.
Since our first experiments, conducted in 2009 with corn seeds coated with clothianidin, the fundamental observations of Greatti et al.(14, 20) have been fully confirmed: significant amounts of coating particles are effectively emitted by the drilling machine during corn sowing.
Link to paper: Article Assessment of the Environmental Exposure of Honeybees to Particulate Matter Containing Neonicotinoid Insecticides Coming from Corn Coated Seeds
In conclusion, particulate matter released by the drilling machine during the sowing of corn seeds coated with neonicotinoid insecticides represents a significant mechanism of environmental diffusion of these insecticides. Bees flying over the sowing field and approaching the emission cloud of the drilling machine can efficiently intercept the suspended particles being directly contaminated with elevated dose of insecticide, significantly higher than the LD50 values estimated for contact, with the cuticle, administration (18, 22, and 30 ng/bee for imidacloprid, clothianidin, and thiamethoxam, respectively(39)). The consequent acute lethal effect evidenced in all the field sowing experiment can be well compared with the colony loss phenomena widely reported by beekeepers in spring and often associated to corn sowing.
It is a disaster. If this spreads and completely decimates the bees then we are in trouble.
Bumble bees, like their well-known honey bee cousins, are important pollinators of agricultural crops and native plants. But bumble bees are mainly used to pollinate greenhouse plants like peppers and tomatoes rather than field crops.