According to the Xerces Society, a nonprofit organization working to protect bees, 75% of the world’s food crop depends on at least one pollinator, such as the honeybee. (California’s pollinator-dependent crop value is about $12 billion a year.) That’s a lot riding on the journey of the humble bee and its pollinator friends.
A hotly-debated class of pesticides, which are toxic to bees, will no longer be allowed to be used in the City of Vancouver to improve the look of lawns ravaged by chafer beetles. City council voted unanimously early Tuesday to ban neonicotinoids, which includes imidacloprid, an insecticide marketed and sold to kill the grubs.
Environmental groups have launched a court challenge to federal permits for two common pesticides that some say are behind large die-offs in bee populations. The lawsuit, filed in Federal Court in Toronto, takes aim at neonicotinoids, which are among the most widely used pesticides in Canada.
Losses of honeybee colonies have become the norm in recent years, especially among commercial beekeepers who rent their pollinating colonies to fruit and nut growers around the country. There is no scientific consensus as to the exact cause, but factors include a parasitic mite that spreads disease, use of a new class of bee-toxic pesticides known as neonicotinoids, and loss of forage.
Pollinators are under huge amounts of stress, struggling to survive as habitats are destroyed, systemic pesticides are applied to crops, and climate change throws off once-reliable weather patterns. Now, a new bill hopes to give these essential insects and animals a boost.
Look up the word “bumble,” and the definition may read something like “To move or act in a confused, awkward or clumsy manner.” But the bumble bee, a member of the genus Bombus, is anything but clumsy. In fact, the insects are expert aviators, alighting with precision inside flowers and vigorously shaking pollen loose from their stamens.
Honey bees are arguably our most important commercially available pollinator. They are responsible for pollinating numerous food plants that make our diets more exciting and nutritious, including many fruits, vegetables, and nuts.
In a landmark decision, France passed a bill that includes an outright ban on neonicotinoids — well over and above EU restrictions and exactly what scientists have been demanding for years if we want to save pollinators and the one-third of our food supply that relies on them.
An international symposium on the use of neonicotinoids — the pesticide believed to be responsible for the widespread loss of bees in Ontario and Quebec, as well as Europe — was held at York University on Tuesday with a focus on the effects on pollinators and integrated pest management.
Bonnie Raindrop has been beekeeping for just nine years, but that’s been more than enough time to see the precipitous decline in bee populations that has been plaguing Maryland. Last year, according to the USDA, Maryland beekeepers lost 61 percent of their honeybee populations, which is two times higher than the national average.
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