CATCH THE BUZZ – Miticides, Ag Chem Mix Deadly In Hives

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Miticides, Ag Chems and Inert Ingredients A Deadly Mix In A Beehive.

Alan Harman

Disturbing new research finds four pesticides commonly used to kill mites, insects and fungi – fluvalinate, coumaphos, chlorothalonil and chlorpyrifos – are also killing honey bee larvae within their hives.

A team from Penn State and University of Florida also found that N-methyl-2-pyrrolidone (NMP) – an inert, or inactive, chemical commonly used as a pesticide additive — is highly toxic to honey bee larvae.

“We found that four of the pesticides most commonly found in beehives kill bee larvae,” says Penn State’s Jim Frazier. “We also found that the negative effects of these pesticides are sometimes greater when the pesticides occur in combinations within the hive.

“Since pesticide safety is judged almost entirely on adult honey bee sensitivity to individual pesticides and also does not consider mixtures of pesticides, the risk assessment process that the Environmental Protection Agency uses should be changed.”

The research was funded by the National Honey Board, the U.S. Department of Agriculture-National Institute of Food and Agriculture-Agriculture and Food Research Initiative-Coordinated Agricultural Projects and the Foundational Award programs. Frazier says the team’s previous research demonstrated that forager bees bring back to the hive an average of six different pesticides on the pollen they collect. Nurse bees use this pollen to make beebread, which they then feed to honey bee larvae.

To examine the effects of four common pesticides – fluvalinate, coumaphos, chlorothalonil and chlorpyrifos – on bee larvae, the researchers reared honey bee larvae in their laboratory. They then applied the pesticides alone and in all combinations to the beebread to determine whether these insecticides and fungicides act alone or in concert to create a toxic environment for honey bee growth and development.

The researchers also investigated the effects of NMP on honey bee larvae by adding seven concentrations of the chemical to a pollen-derived, royal jelly diet. NMP is used to dissolve pesticides into formulations that then allow the active ingredients to spread and penetrate the plant or animal surfaces onto which they are applied.

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