St. Louis-based chemical and seed giant Monsanto Co. has purchased a company called Beeologics, which has developed a product intended to counteract viral agents that plague honey bee colonies in an attempt to stem the effects of Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD).
The product is currently being reviewed for potential commercial sale by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
CCD has devastated bees and beekeepers around the country in recent years, a phenomenon that that many scientists have tied to the use of the systemic neonicotinoid insecticides widely used in agriculture and gardens.
The United Nations (UN) also revealed in a report that the collapse of honey bee colonies is now a global phenomenon.
While CCD appears to have multiple interacting causes, a range of evidence points to sub-lethal pesticide exposures and pathogens as important contributing factors.
Neonicotinoids, the particularly suspect class of insecticides, especially in combination with the dozens of other pesticides, have been found in honey bee hives and the use of chemicals in agriculture has been found to damage bees by weakening their immune systems. Laboratory studies show that some insecticides and fungicides can act together to be 1,000 times more toxic to bees. They can also affect the sense of direction, memory and brain metabolism, and herbicides and pesticides may reduce the availability of plants bees need for food and for the larval stages of some pollinators.
However, the emerging science finds that pesticides like clothianidin and others mentioned above do in fact harm bees. See Beyond Pesticides’ factsheet on the connection between clothianidin and CCD.
For more information, on honeybees and pesticides visit Beyond Pesticides’ Pollinators and Pesticides page.