"Bees Face 'Unprecedented' Pesticide Exposures"

"SAN FRANCISCO -- For years the news has been the same: Honey bees are being hammered by some mysterious environmental plague that has a name -- colony collapse disorder -- but no established cause. A two-year study now provides evidence indicting one likely group of suspects: pesticides. It found 'unprecedented levels' of mite-killing chemicals and crop pesticides in hives across the United States and parts of Canada.

Scientists here at the American Chemical Society spring annual meeting, which kicked off today, will report on the findings of this study later in the week. But if you want an early peek at their results, or can't make it to the meeting, check out a 19-page synopsis of the data that has just been published online in the March PLoS ONE.

In it, Christopher Mullin of Pennsylvania State University in University Park and his colleagues describe widespread pesticide tainting in 749 samples of bee-dom, some of those chemicals at levels that would be toxic if they occurred alone. Except that most bees aren't exposed to just a single pesticide."

Janet Raloff reports for Science News March 21, 2010.

Monday, March 22, 2010