Welcome to “Tom’s Corner,” a blog about bee decline by Tom Theobald, founding member of the Boulder County Beekeepers’ Association. In July 2010 Theobald wrote an article about clothianidin and bees for Bee Culture magazine. “Do We Have a Pesticide Blowout” ignited a conversation about the connection between systemic pesticides, specifically clothianidin, and declining bee populations in the United States. Timeline here:
The story continues to unfold…
This chart give the relative toxicity of some common pesticides compared to the toxicity of some of the neonicotinoids, with DDT as the reference point. While the EPA and USDA claim there has been a reduction in pesticides with the introduction of systemic pesticides (which in itself is a fallacy), it is a little like saying that we have solved the arms race by replacing all those bows and arrows with a few nuclear weapons.
Click to enlarge
This is big. Dutch Parliament has moved to ban all neonicotinoids. Holland has one of the most intensive agricultural regions in the world and some of the most highly contaminated soil and groundwater. Some of the groundwater is so heavily contaminated that it could be used itself as a pesticide.
This morning as the news was breaking June Stoyer of the Organic View interviewed Dutch toxicologist Henk Tennekes and myself. Listen on YouTube below.
This article by Graham White, PESTICIDES, THE BIRDS AND THE BEES, appeared in the International Beekeepers Quarterly and explores the wider ramifications of how neonicotinoid insecticides are affecting the entire food chain, especially the insectivorous birds.
Recently the United States Geological Survey released a huge database of Pesticide Use Maps that map the use of 459 pesticides from 1992-2011.
BCBA’s webmaster has animated these maps for three of the most widely used neonicotinoids: clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiamethoxam. These animations show the sudden explosion of these pesticides across the American landscape.
As dramatic as these maps are however, seed treatments were not included in these calculations, and yet seed treatments are perhaps the most widely employed pesticide delivery system in history. You would think that the EPA, in its efforts to protect mankind and the environment, would want this usage tracked, but instead is pressing to have these seed treatments exempted from the category of “pesticide use”, so that there would be no data kept on these massive uses.
Click on each of the maps below to see them animated.
Originally published on: Jun 17, 2013
Updated on: Feb 1, 2014 (added 2010 and 2011 maps)
This link will take you to the podcast of an interview conducted recently on The Organic View with Randy Oliver and Walter Haefeker of Germany. While it is long, those of you trying to understand these issues should listen to it all. Scroll down about half way for the podcast.