Neonicotinoid-Contaminated Pollinator Strips Adjacent to Cropland Reduces Honey Bee Nutritional Status

CATCH THE BUZZ    By: Christina L. Mogren & Jonathan G. Lundgren     July 28, 2016

Worldwide pollinator declines are attributed to a number of factors, including pesticide exposures. Neonicotinoid insecticides specifically have been detected in surface waters, non-target vegetation, and bee products, but the risks posed by environmental exposures are still not well understood. Pollinator strips were tested for clothianidin contamination in plant tissues, and the risks to honey bees assessed. An enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) quantified clothianidin in leaf, nectar, honey, and bee bread at organic and seed-treated farms. Total glycogen, lipids, and protein from honey bee workers were quantified. The proportion of plants testing positive for clothianidin were the same between treatments. Leaf tissue and honey had similar concentrations of clothianidin between organic and seed-treated farms. Honey (mean±SE: 6.61 ± 0.88 ppb clothianidin per hive) had seven times greater concentrations than nectar collected by bees (0.94 ± 0.09 ppb). Bee bread collected from organic sites (25.8 ± 3.0 ppb) had significantly less clothianidin than those at seed treated locations (41.6 ± 2.9 ppb). Increasing concentrations of clothianidin in bee bread were correlated with decreased glycogen, lipid, and protein in workers. This study shows that small, isolated areas set aside for conservation do not provide spatial or temporal relief from neonicotinoid exposures in agricultural regions where their use is largely prophylactic.

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Court Revokes Approval of Insecticide, Citing Alarming Decline in Bees

Los Angeles Times   By Maura Dolan and Geoffarey Mohan September 10, 2015

An appeals court Thursday overturned federal approval of an insecticide used on a variety of crops, ruling that it could hasten an already “alarming” decline in bees.

The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals said the federal Environmental Protection Agency approved the insecticide, sulfoxaflor, based on flawed and limited information. Initial studies showed the insecticide was highly toxic to honey bees.

"Bees are essential to pollinate important crops and in recent years have been dying at alarming rates,” Judge Mary M. Schroeder, a Carter appointee, wrote for a three-judge panel.

Beekeepers and beekeeping organizations challenged the EPA's 2013 approval of sulfoxaflor, made by Dow Agrosciences and designed for use on many crops, including citrus, cotton, canola, strawberries, soybeans and wheat.

Janette Brimmer, who represented the beekeepers for Earthjustice, an environmental group, said the ruling affects the entire country and will force states to withdraw more local rules that have permitted the insecticide.

Federal appeals courts "almost never" overturn EPA approvals of pesticides, Brimmer said.

"This was a pretty significant decision," she said. "It revokes the registration, and it is a national registration."

Sold under the brand names Closer and Transform, sulfoxaflor is an insecticide aimed at piercing and sucking insects (such as aphids and lygus) that attack a variety of crops, such as cotton, tomato, pepper, strawberry and citrus. It was registered for use in California in 2014, according to Department of Pesticide Regulation records.

California regulators have limited the insecticide’s use to lettuce, which does not attract bees. Lettuce growers asked for special permission this year to apply the chemical to control aphids.

The California Department of Pesticide Regulation granted the request but restricted the amount farmers could use. As a result of Thursday’s ruling, the state will prevent sulfoxaflor’s use on any produce, a department spokeswoman said.

The court said the EPA recognized the potential hazard to bees but decided the risks would be reduced by rules limiting applications. That decision was made without “any meaningful study,” the court said.

“Given the precariousness of bee populations, leaving the EPA’s registration of sulfoxaflor in place risks more potential environmental harm than vacating it,” the 9th Circuit concluded.

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(Note from NYCBeekeeping: "The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the EPA approved the insecticide, sulfoxaflor, based on flawed and limited information.
This revokes the registration, which may seem a good thing, but it actually means that all "existing stocks" can be used without any regard to the label instructions, including any bee-protectve language. The NRDC learned this the hard way with spirotetramat, FIFRA may prohibit sales but not use.
When are beekeepers going to learn that "revoking registrations" is not the way to go, that the registration needs to be reworded to outlaw the specific uses that put bees at risk?
Full ruling here:…/09/10/13-72346.pdf)

Insecticide Could Be Culprit in Honey Bee Die Offs

New York Post     Reuters   August 18, 2015

A type of insecticide under scrutiny by the White House because of fears about its impact on honeybees has been found in more than half of streams sampled across the United States, according to a study by government researchers published Tuesday.

The study, published in Environmental Chemistry and conducted by US Geological Survey researchers, found that five types of insecticides that are known as neonicotinoids were present in varying degrees in 149 samples taken from 48 streams.

At least one type was detected in 63 percent of the samples collected, USGS researcher Michael Focazio said. The samples included many waterways through the Midwest and Southeast. Concentration levels varied.

Over the last few years, evidence has mounted that links the use of neonics, as they are known, to widespread die-offs of honeybees needed to pollinate crops. There are also fears the insecticides are harming other pollinators.

Neonicotinoids, chemically similar to nicotine, are one of the fastest-growing classes of insecticides worldwide and are used both in agricultural and urban settings. They are popular with farmers and are often used to coat seeds before they are planted.

The study represents the first national-scale investigation of the environmental occurrence of neonicotinoid insecticides in agricultural and urban settings, the USGS said. The research spanned 24 states as well as Puerto Rico.

“In the study, neonicotinoids occurred throughout the year in urban streams while pulses of neonicotinoids were typical in agricultural streams during crop planting season,” USGS research chemist Michelle Hladik, the report’s lead author, said in a statement.

Neonics and their impact on the environment have been a topic of debate in Washington lately.

The US Environmental Protection Agency in May proposed a rule that would create temporary pesticide-free zones to protect commercial honeybees.

The restrictions are aimed at protecting honeybees, which pollinate plants that produce roughly a quarter of the food consumed by Americans. Losses of managed honeybee colonies hit 42.1 percent from April 2014 through April 2015, up from 34.2 percent for 2013-2014, and the second-highest annual loss to date, according to the US Department of Agriculture.

Beekeepers, environmental groups and some scientists say it is the neonics that are harming the bees.

Agrichemical companies including Bayer and Syngenta disagree, and instead blame mite infestations and other factors.

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USGS Summary: Insecticides Similar to Nicotine Found in About Haqlf of Sampled Streams Across the United States

Examining The Neonicotinoid Threat To Honey Bees   American Chemical Society  July 8, 2015

The decline of honey bees has been a major concern globally for the past decade. One of the factors that could be contributing to the decline is the use of insecticides—specifically neonicotinoids—that persist in rivers and streams. Researchers now report in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology Letters that although sunlight plays an important role in degrading pollutants, its effects on neonicotinoids can diminish dramatically even in shallow water.

Neonicotinoids protect crops from pests, such as whiteflies, beetles and termites. They are a popular tool in a farmer's arsenal, but they end up washing into surface waters and soil. Some research has suggested the  play a role in the disappearance of bees, a phenomenon known as colony collapse disorder. But scientists didn't fully understand the fate of neonicotinoids in the environment, an important factor in determining how they might contribute to the disorder. Charles S. Wong and colleagues wanted to investigate sunlight's effects on these insecticides in water.

Out of five neonicotinoids the researchers tested in water under simulated sunny conditions, three degraded considerably within minutes.

Two took a few days to break down. But a depth of just 3 inches of water was enough to shield at least one, thiamethoxam, from the degrading effects of the sun. The researchers say that this persistence at shallow depths could increase the chances aquatic life and other wildlife, including bees, could get exposed to the insecticide.

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The above post is reprinted from materials provided by American Chemical Society.