Bee Populations In The US Increase By Up To 73% After The Banning Of NNI Insecticides

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Bee Populations In The US Increase By Up To 73% After The Banning Of NNI Insecticides

In what is unusual good news for the bee population, it has been revealed that in the United States, the number of bee colonies is rising, in some places quite dramatically. An investigation by the United States Department of Agriculture looking at bee numbers between January 2019 and January 2020 showed some states increasing their numbers by over 70%.

Overall, bee numbers during the time of the study grew nationwide by 14%, but in Maine, there was a 73% increase in the number of bee colonies while Michigan saw growth of 50%. Texas saw a more modest, but still significant growth of 38%. It is now thought that in the first half of 2020, as many as 420,000 new bee colonies have sprung up in the United States.

Bees are crucial for the wellbeing of the ecosystem, including the ecosystem upon which the human food supply system is built. This is because the bees fertilise plants and create new growth by transporting pollen from the stamens of male plants and land them onto female plants. Without this process many species of plants, flowers and crop staples would not reproduce. It is thought that in Europe, 84% of plant species and 76% of food production depends on pollination from bees and other similar insects such as butterflies.

There has been a worry for a long time in the United States and across the world that bee numbers were declining dramatically and, as such, there could be severe ecological disruption. Many theories on why the bee numbers have been declining exist, including higher urbanisation, leading to fewer areas where bees can build colonies, and even radio-waves disturbing their ability to navigate properly. However, the most common reason given is that the bees are being poisoned by insecticides that are used by farmers to kill off bugs that eat their crops.

The insecticide most believed to be causing harm to bees are the group known as neonicotinoid insecticides (NNIs) which includes clothianidin and thiamethoxam. Their effect on bees have been studied in-depth by scientists and it has been shown that they can damage bee populations significantly.

Dave Goulson, of the University of Sussex, UK, told New Scientist magazine about a study his team performed looking at the affect of NNIs on bees:

"Whatever you use the chemicals on, they are contaminating the environment and getting into bees’ food. I think you’d have to be pretty unreasonable at this point not to accept that, at least some of the time, these chemicals harm bees when used in normal farming practice."

In May 2019, the United States banned NNIs, following the European Union who banned the use of all NNIs in late 2018. While bee populations have not seen a bounce back in the EU like they have in the United States, it could well be the case that the harm caused by these chemicals will take time to be fully repaired.

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Thinking Humanity: Bee Populations In The US Increase By Up To 73% After The Banning Of NNI Insecticides
Bee Populations In The US Increase By Up To 73% After The Banning Of NNI Insecticides
In what is unusual good news for the bee population it has been revealed that in the United States the number of bee colonies is rising, in some place
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