Bees are in a perilous position and a new study adds more worry concerning the state of honey. A post on Modern Farmer states Swiss researchers found neonicotinoids in honey across six continents. Although the results aren’t a surprise, what is noteworthy is the use of citizen science enabling so many samples. Here’s numbers from the post:
Relying on citizen science, they tested 198 different samples of honey from six continents. (Antarctica is devoid of bees.) A whopping 75 percent of all those samples, across all six continents, tested positive for neonicotinoids—and 45 percent contained two or more different types.
Neonicotinoids are a newer form of pesticide and have been banned in Europe. According to Beyond Pesticides they can affect the central nervous system of insects, and the problem here is that bee larvae feed on honey. As with many pesticides there is disagreement.
The case of the neonicotinoids exemplifies two critical problems with current registration procedures and risk assessment methods for pesticides: the reliance on industry-funded science that contradicts peer-reviewed studies and the insufficiency of current risk assessment procedures to account for sublethal effects of pesticides.
You can check out the full study on Science which describes the larger problem of understanding contamination in the environment. Meanwhile people in China are practicing pollination by hand while Japan is working on drone pollinators. Is it too late to save the bees even with the help of citizen science?