Colony collapse disorder, or the mass die-off of honeybees, has perplexed scientists and researchers for years now. New research shows a link between an increase in the deaths of bees an insecticides, specifically the chemicals that are used to coat corn seeds.
This study, entitled "Assessment of the Environmental Exposure of Honeybees to Particulate Matter Containing Neonicotinoid Insecticides Coming from Corn Coated Seeds", may finally provide the information that could lead to even more answers.
The study indicates that neonicotinoid insecticides "are among the most widely used in the world, popular because they kill insects by paralyzing nerves but have lower toxicity for other animals."
Right around the time of corn planting using this kind of insecticide, beekeepers immediately observed an increase in die-offs. Pneumatic drilling machines suck the seeds in, and then spray them with insecticide to create a coating before they are planted in the ground. Researchers had suspected that the mass die-offs may have been caused by the particles of insecticide that were released into the air by machines when the chemicals are sprayed.
While researchers tested out a few different methods to make the drilling machines safer for bees, they found that all variations that used the neonictinoid insecticides continued to cause mass die-offs of bees.
The reason that there has been so much interest in finding out what is causing colony collapse disorder is because honeybees are critical for pollinating food crops, and the disruption of pollination could significantly affect entire ecosystems.
The study was published in the American Chemical Society's Environmental Science & Technology journal.