Researchers in the United Kingdom are encouraged by the discovery of a new pesticide formula that may hold the key to stopping the collapse of bee colonies. However, an Atlanta bee expert cautions the solution to the global problem will likely require more than just a new, organic pesticide.
"I would say most beekeepers believe there's not one solution to this problem," said Dr. Linda Tillman, who serves with the Georgia Beekeepers Association. She said that when the honey bee colony collapse disorder (CCD) was first noticed by farmers and researchers several years ago, some people thought the cause could be tied back to cell phone signals.
That theory was quickly debunked, said Tillman, and scientists have been trying to find a solution ever since.
"There are solutions to CCD that are promised every day, different ones," said Tillman.
While most experts now believe pesticides based in nicotine, or neonicotinoids, are responsible for the random collapse of bee colonies, Tillman said CCD can also likely be tied in with the changing environment, and commercial agricultural practices.
"It's such a conglomerate of things," she said.
British researchers revealed this week that a pesticide laced with spider venom may hold a safe solution for bees, leaving them unharmed while still performing the same functions as a neonictinoid.
"I don't know that (the new pesticide formula) solves the problem," said Tillman. "The problem is way more global than that. That spider venom is in Britain, we don't even know if it would be approved in the United States."
If it continues to grow in severity, scientists believe the Colony Collapse Disorder could threaten the global food chain, as many crops will be unable to grow without pollination.
"In a sense the bees may be the canary in the coal mine," said Tillman. "They may be saying, we have a problem in our environment."
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