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A beekeeper's perspective on the neonicotinoid ban

journal contribution
posted on 2023-06-09, 15:01 authored by Norman CarreckNorman Carreck
Bees and agrochemicals have a long history. For example, the first volume of IBRA’s journal Bee World in 1919 contains mention of poisoning of bees by spraying an orchard with lead arsenate. Bees being insects, it is self-evident that the use of insecticides to control crop pests poses a risk to them. Bee poisoning incidents became a very serious problem in the 1960s and 1970s with spraying of, in particular, oilseed rape with organophosphorus compounds. The introduction of carbamates and then especially synthetic pyrethroids reduced these problems. Data from the Wildlife Incident Investigation Scheme show that in recent years there have been very few poisoning incidents in the United Kingdom that can be attributed to agricultural insecticides. The introduction of neonicotinoid insecticides has, however, been very controversial. Almost as soon as they were introduced in the 1990s, French beekeepers blamed colony losses on imidacloprid used on sunflowers and maize, but restrictions on its use did not lead to a reduction in losses or to a reduction in beekeepers’ concerns. Acute pesticide poisoning incidents by neonicotinoids in Germany and Italy in 2008 further sealed their reputation. Despite laboratory evidence showing their harm,field experience remains equivocal, and many commercial beekeepers continue to move their colonies to oilseed rape crops for honey production. The neonicotinoid moratorium has undoubtedly led to the increased use of older insecticides, and the effect of this on bee populations is unknown and unquantified. Many beekeepers are currently confused by the conflicting evidence.


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Pest Management Science









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  • Evolution, Behaviour and Environment Publications

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  • Laboratory of Apiculture and Social Insects Publications

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