‘Neonics Not Key Driver of Bee Deaths’–USDA Study May Clash With White House Poised to Restrict Pesticide


Even as a special White House created task force is poised any day now to address concerns over supposedly vanishing honeybees, new research suggests that the very premise of the federal investigation may be misplaced.

Last summer, President Obama asked the Environmental Protection Agency to investigate conflicting reports that pesticides, and in particular a class of chemicals known as neonicotinoids, were the probable cause of mysterious bee deaths and declining numbers of beehives.

The latest headline on farmers’ critical pollinator? The numbers of beehives are actually growing, continuing a multi-year improvement–gradually repairing the damage wrought by the 2006 mass bee die off known as Colony Collapse Disorder.

The Department of Agriculture announced late last week that honey production, which had been disrupted after CCD devastated the bee population nine years ago, continues to improve, up 14 percent. The total number of hives also increased again, by 100,000 or 4 percent, as it had increased the year before and the year before that.

More to the point as to the acrimonious debate over whether and how much neonicotinoids are impacting bee health, the total number of beehives today is higher than it was in 1995 when neonics as they are often called had just come on the market.

The report also comes just days after a USDA-sponsored study concluded that widely promoted claims that neonics are the primary driver of been health problems seriously distort the scientific explanation as to why bees have struggled over the past decade.

Simple or ‘simplistic’ explanations for bee deaths?

Here are the data for the number of managed beehives in North America, showing the stabilizing situation even before last week’s 4 percent increase:

Sources: USDA and Statistics Canada

After a rocky few years as the CCD crisis unfolded, beehive numbers stabilized and —> Read More