I have been giving this topic a lot of press over the past few months, because I regard the use of pesticides in our environment as the single biggest threat to the survival of beekeeping – witness the recent poisonings and accidental crop spraying affecting bee numbers in the Wide Bay Burnett area in Qld. Pesticides worry me even more than the threat of Varroa. Varroa has not shut down beekeeping– it has just become more difficult.
The threat of pesticides, however, is insidious. At what point do we as humans say ‘Enough!’ Have we not learned anything from DDT? Used in the latter part of WWII to control malaria and typhus, it was later linked to cancer and the marked decline in bird populations. It is now widely recognised that DDT was an environmental disaster.
So what did we do? – we developed Dieldrin to replace DDT. An even bigger environmental disaster, an extremely persistent organic pollutant linked to health problems such as Parkinson's disease, breast cancer, and immune, reproductive, and nervous system damage. Now banned throughout most of the world. Where are we today? Neonicatinoids – systemic pesticides targeted at insects. What are bees? Insects!
Even though Bayer Crop Chemicals seem to be now starting to accept some responsibility for their production of this blight on the world (as seen by their voluntary removal of Imidacloprid as recommended for use in Almond orchards in the US) it is too little, and too late. Included in this issue is an article by Rosemary Mason – The truth about systemic insecticides. A long article, it is not easy reading, but I ask that you read it in full – if you want to keep keeping bees, you must educate yourself and, more importantly, farmers, about the dangers posed by this family of chemicals. Persistent, systemic, and polluting of both surface and groundwater. Dangerous to your bees, and to a whole host of other organisms, including non-target insects, aquatic invertebrates, mammals, and, quite possibly, yourselves.
Author: Des Cannon