Tags: 37 million | bees | dead | ontario

37 Million Bees Dead In Ontario, 25-50K in Oregon; Pesticides Blamed

Monday, 15 Jul 2013 09:07 AM

By Michael Mullins

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More than 37 million honeybees died at one honey producing facility in Ontario in 2012. According to Dave Schuit, who runs the facility, the mass die-off of bees is the latest such incident that has plagued the bee colony over the last few years.

In June a massive honey bee die-off was reported in Oregon, where between 25,000 and 50,000 bees were found dead in a Target parking.

In the Ontario case, Dave Schuit has no doubt what the cause of his honey bee die-off is, telling The Toronto Star that neonicotinoid pesticides are to blame for the seizure-like deaths of their European honeybees.

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"This is how they die," the 48-year-old Schuit told The Star while pointing to a bee that was flailing erratically in the grass. "Their tongue sticks out and the venom drips out their backside."

The widely used "seed treatment" known as neonicotinoids, is sold by the German agricultural science giant Bayer and Switzerland’s Sygenta.

Extremely lethal to insects such as bees, neonicotinoids are far less toxic to mammals and other vertebrates, according to The Star.

Nicotine-related compounds in the pesticides are used to protect corn, soy and canola seeds from ground-dwelling insects that can damage the plants as it sprouts.
Schuit's massive die-off in Ontario and the Target parking lot incident in June are not isolated incidences.

The phenomenon, known as colony collapse disorder (CCD), has been felt across North America over the past seven years and is responsible for the overall terminal decline of honeybees in the United States.

First observed in 2006, CCD is responsible for a 29 percent drop in U.S. beehives in 2009, following a 36 percent decline in 2008 and a 32 percent fall in 2007, according to the US Department of Agriculture.

Since the 1940's, the total number of managed bee colonies has dropped 50 percent from five million to just 2.5 million today, the USDA reports.

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Though the official cause of the massive honey bee die-off has yet to be determined, scientists and beekeepers alike suspect that pesticides likely play a role.

Additionally, the arrival of Varroa mites, which reportedly spread a virus among bees, has increased the honey bee's decline to a greater extent, according to scientists.

Honey bees play a key role in pollinating a wide variety of food crops around the world.
In the U.S. alone, honey bees play a role in the production of about one-third of all food and beverages sold.

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