The bees needs


In the article ‘Feeding a growing world’, Julian Little, of Bayer, refers to insecticides as being more, or less, ‘bee-friendly’. While he was correct to refer to the relative toxicity of insecticides, they can hardly be described as ‘bee-friendly’.

 
Insecticides kill insects, including bees and other non-target species, and honey bees frequently are subject to collateral effects from the use of pesticides in crop protection. The correct terms to use are therefore ‘harmful’, ‘dangerous’ and ‘risk’. 
 
This may appear to be a pedantic complaint, but beekeepers rely on the users of insecticides to exercise caution and to liaise with local beekeepers before using products that may harm bees. The term ‘bee-friendly’ serves to undermine this caution and encourage non-compliance. 
 
Little also states that ‘some neonicotinoids are intrinsically bee-safe’. This has not been proven in respect of the neonicotinoids used in systemic products. Firstly, they are several thousand times more toxic to bees than DDT. Second, the pesticide risk assessment methodology for bees is far from satisfactory. Third, there is still research to be done on the sub-lethal and chronic effects of neonicotinoids on bees, through exposure to pesticide residues in nectar and pollen.
 
It is therefore important that agrichemical companies do not misrepresent their products, for in doing so they contribute to the ‘tarnished public image’ referred to in this article.
 
J Hoar
Fareham, UK
 

Related Content

Multiple insecticides are bad news for bumblebees

23 October 2012 Research

news image

New study suggests that exposure to multiple insecticides causes bumblebees additional problems

Imidacloprid

10 July 2013 Podcast | Compounds

news image

Phillip Broadwith discusses one of the neonicitinoid insecticides believed to be causing problems for bees

Most Read

Flushing advice is flawed

24 August 2015 Research

news image

Protocols to restore contaminated water supplies are not based on science

Simple chemistry saving thousands of gold miners from mercury poisoning

25 August 2015 News and Analysis

news image

Basic apparatus is cutting mercury pollution and helping Indonesian miners go for gold

Most Commented

New drug treatment for alcoholism shows promise in animal studies

24 August 2015 Research

news image

Compounds that target a receptor in the brain appear less addictive with fewer negative side-effects than existing drugs

Exploiting the data mine

13 August 2015 Feature

news image

Chemists must embrace open data to allow us to collectively get the best out of the masses of new knowledge we unearth, repor...