Aug 29, 2017

Why Pesticides Are Bad for Honeybees

You have likely heard the news that honey bee populations have been declining. There are quite a few factors that scientists have discovered might be responsible for harming the bees. Pesticides commonly used on large, essential crops have been found to directly cause harm to honey bees. But exactly how are pesticides bad for bees? The harm can range from affecting flight patterns to demolishing entire colonies. Because honey bees pollinate plants all over the world – and their survival directly ties into ours – it is essential to determine how pesticide use on bees can affect their lives.

A recently published study found that a common pesticide known as a neonicotinoid used on crops like corn and cotton disturbs the honey bees’ ability to fly. Similar to nicotine’s effect on humans, this pesticide’s effect on honey bees is not lethal in small doses, but according to Professor James Nieh of UC San Diego’s Division of Biological Sciences, “a sub-lethal dose may lead to a lethal effect on the entire colony.”1 Even in those small doses, it still negatively affected the honey bee’s flight pattern, which led to bees being unable to make it back to their hives.

Along with the damage to the honeybee, pesticide traces have turned up in the pollen and nectar that they gather. According to a study in Nature Scientific, up to “93 different pesticide compounds” were found in different elements produced by bees that are involved with the colonies themselves (like wax and pollen), elevating colonies’ “hazard quotients”, which is a measure of the total amount of toxic pesticides that exist within a honey bee’s life.2 All of the toxins found from the residual pesticides built up in the material bees produce and store in their hives can lead to killing of queens and can even destroy the entire colony.

With this in mind, the folks here at Comvita are doing our part to protect the lives of bees through ethical practices and sustainability. Learn more about the mission behind our UMF-rated Manuka honey.