Crop-Protecting Fungicides May Be Hurting The Honey Bees

Beekeepers Glen Andresen and Tim Wessels are trying to breed a honey bee that is more resilient to colder climates. Kathryn Boyd-Batstone/Oregon Public Broadcasting hide caption

toggle caption

Kathryn Boyd-Batstone/Oregon Public Broadcasting

Beekeepers Glen Andresen and Tim Wessels are trying to breed a honey bee that is more resilient to colder climates.

Kathryn Boyd-Batstone/Oregon Public Broadcasting

You know those nasty brown spots that can ruin an otherwise perfectly delicious apple? Those spots and other problems — like blossom blight and yellow leaves — are often caused by fungi. Apple growers usually fight back with fungicides, but a new study has found that those fungicides could be hurting honey bees.

“The long-standing assumption is that fungicides won’t be toxic to insects,” says May Berenbaum, an entomologist at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

But Berenbaum and her colleagues found, in a study published Monday by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, that fungicides can harm bees by making it harder for them to metabolize their food. If bees can’t get energy from their food, they can’t fly.

The study sheds new light on what appears to be the latest of many threats scientists have identified as they try to understand why honey bees and other pollinating insects have been dying off. Over the past decade, bees that farmers and gardeners rely on to pollinate plants have been dying in unprecedented numbers.

Article continues after sponsorship

Researchers have scrambled to figure out what’s killing the bees, and they’ve identified some factors — including pesticides aimed at killing insects, reduced forage plants, and bee mites and other diseases.

Now, researchers have implicated a whole new class of chemicals in recent bee die-offs: fungicides.

Berenbaum says the takeaway is that “every kind of pest management approach can have unintended consequences.”

Unlike other kinds of pesticides, fungicides are largely unregulated in many states.

This story comes to us from member station KUOW andEarthFix, an environmental journalism collaboration led by Oregon Public Broadcasting in partnership with six other public media stations in Oregon, Washington and Idaho.

Read More at NPR News

Get more stuff like this
in your inbox

Subscribe to our mailing list and get interesting stuff and updates to your email inbox.

Thank you for subscribing.

Something went wrong.

5 Healthy Ways This Fitness Star Is Prepping for Her Wedding
4 Healthy Reasons to Eat Avocados
The Salad Trend You Didn’t Know You Needed
Got 30 Minutes? The Ultimate HIIT Jump Rope Workout
5 Healthy Ways This Fitness Star Is Prepping for Her Wedding
4 Ideas for Using Herbs You Probably Haven’t Thought Of
Bobbi Brown’s Top 10 Superfoods for Beauty and the Fun Way She Eats Them
Lena Dunham’s Trainer Tracy Anderson Says She Wanted to ‘Feel Better’ and Not Make Her Body ‘Look Different’
The Easy Frozen Yogurt Dessert You’ll Be Eating All Summer Long
A Food-Lover’s Mother’s Day Gift Guide
4 Foolproof Tips to Make Healthy Veggie Chips at Home
4 Healthy Reasons to Eat Avocados
Sensory and diet therapies for autism lack strong evidence
3-D printed ovaries help mice get pregnant, show promise for fertility treatments
Tremors tied to recreational drugs can linger in former users
‘Heat-not-burn’ cigarettes still release cancer-causing chemicals