A recent Black Hills Pioneer story entitled ‘Saving the Hive’ missed a point. Kevin Luebke, state biologist for the South Dakota branch of Natural Resources Conservation Society (NRCS), stated that honeybees will rarely seek the nectar of GMO/neonicotinoid corn. While this statement is true, Luebke failed to mention the amount of pollen bees collect from corn and all plants they visit. Neonicotinoids are systemic insecticides, meaning the plant absorbs the chemical into every cell, making every part of the plant poisonous.
According to the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, neonicotinoids are also present in the nectar and pollen of treated plants, and therefore pose a direct threat to bees and other flower-visitors. The Xerces Society also concluded that these chemicals present a particular risk to bees because bees feed on nectar as adults and collect pollen to feed their offspring.
Luebke also stated that neonicotinoid-treated canola seeds are being used in the USDA’s “pollinator initiative program.” If the USDA is already admittedly using one treated seed, what is stopping them from using more? Luebke said neconicotinoid-treated crops decrease in potency over time, but according the Xerces Society, “Neonicotinoids can persist in soil for months or years after a single application. Measurable amounts of residues were found in woody plants up to six years after application.”
The Xerces Society also found that honeybees exposed to sublethal levels of “neonics” can experience problems with flying and navigation, reduced taste sensitivity, and slower learning of new tasks, all of which impact their foraging ability.
If the seeds being distributed by the USDA’s “pollinator initative program” are neonicotinoid-treated, please tell me how this will save the honeybees?