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Daily News Archive
From May 29, 2002

Beekeepers Voice Concerns About Pesticide Use

Recent declines in the honeybee population in North America have beekeepers concerned about pesticide use, according to The National Post. In Canada, 30 to 90% die-offs are occurring as compared to the normal 5% to 10%. The population declines happen to be near potato fields where farmers spray imidacloprid to target the Colorado potato beetle. Concern is now arising over a newer imidacloprid product to be used on canola fields. 70% of the honey produced in Canada is from bees that feed on canola.

Bees are not only important for honey production, but for pollinating plants in nature and on farms. The National Post reports that "plants that bees pollinate make up about 80% of the food Canadians take home from the grocery store." Dr. Jim Kemp, who is researching the honeybee population decline, says that "every bee that flies through an orchard is like a $20 bill flying by, because of the amount of apples that its work will produce… and whatever is affecting honeybees could be affecting bumblebees and other wild bees native to this country."

Dr. Kemp is studying the pollen and nectar extracted from bees collected near potato fields. The Bayer Corporation funds a large portion of his research. Bayer manufactures Admire, the imidacloprid-containing product used on Canada's potato fields. After a summer of research, he claims that the imidacloprid is an unlikely cause of the decline in honeybees. Beekeepers remain skeptical. This chemical has been blamed for similar problems in other parts of the world. France banned imidacloprid several years ago after honeybees started dying near sunflower fields sprayed with it.