February 21, 2018

Not so sweet: 75 percent of honey samples had key pesticide

08 October 2017, 01:12 | Kara Nash

Pesticides harmful to bees which are present in 75% of the honey world

Trace amounts of neonicotinoid pesticides found in 75% of honey samples worldwide—'far below' levels dangerous to

Dr Edward Mitchell, a soil biologist at the University of Neuchâtel in Switzerland and study co-author said "On the global scale, the contamination is really striking".

Neonicotinoids are described as extremely toxic to bees; 48-percent of the sampled honey had concentrations of these insecticides that were great enough to cause "significant" problems for bees. But the pesticides have been controversial, because a number of studies have found that they can hurt pollinators as well as pests.

They found that three quarters of all the honey samples contained at least one neonicotinoid.

Researchers meant to analyze the samples for five commonly used neonicotinoids - acetamiprid, clothianidin, imidacloprid, thiacloprid, and thiamethoxam. Bees are involved in pollination of more than 80 per cent of the planet's 107 most important crops, but have been the victims of the so-called "bee collapse syndrome". Almost half of all the honey samples showed more than two types of neonics, and 10 percent had four or more.

Samples from North America, Asia and Europe contained the highest level of pesticides.

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The pesticides are believed to be a large contributor to honey-bee colony collapse disorder, where the majority of worker bees inexplicably abandon a hive, leaving the queen, a substantial amount of honey and a few nurse bees that care for the queen and immature bees.

As part of a citizen science project, the Swiss researchers asked other experts, friends and relatives to ship them honey samples.

Industry sources, though, dismissed the research saying the study was too small to draw concrete conclusions.

"The study found that almost half of the honey samples exceeded a level of the pesticide that some previous research said weakens bees", asserted the report, adding: "But the pesticide makers say otherwise". They said neonics are risky to all sorts of insects, even ladybugs.

The positive honey samples contained one or more varieties of insecticides that can harm bees. University of IL bee expert Sydney Cameron and other scientists said those comparisons aren't right because neonics don't stay in an animal's system like DDT did and are applied to seeds and not sprayed in mass quantities.

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