© 2024 Connecticut Public

FCC Public Inspection Files:
WPKT · WRLI-FM · WEDW-FM · Public Files Contact
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Should Neonicotinoids Be Banned to Protect Honeybees?

d o w n s t r e a m
Flickr Creative Commons
Neonicotinoids, a class of pesticide, thought to be linked to decling bee numbers, have been temporarily banned in Europe.
Beekeepers are struggling to learn why honeybee numbers have dropped in recent years.

Members of Congress, including three from Connecticut, have signed a letter urging the Environmental Protection Agency to better regulate a controversial class of pesticide called neonicotinoids.

"Neonicotinoids are insecticides that are systemic in plants," said Kimberly Stoner, associate scientist at the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station. Stoner researches how neonicotinoids move in squash plants. "They spread in the vascular system of the plant," she said. "One of the concerns is the extent to which they can spread to the pollen and nectar of the plant and be spread by the bees."

Credit U.S. Geological Survey
A honeybee drone.

That worry is shared by beekeepers who are struggling to learn why honeybee numbers have dropped in recent years. Stoner said beekeepers in Connecticut lost about half their colonies each of the past two winters. She said these mass die-offs could have many causes. "They are exposed to pesticides," she said. "They are suffering from Varroa mites -- parasitic mites that have been a big problem for beekeepers since the 1980s -- and, in some places, they are short of floral resources." 

Stoner said there is value in looking at the range of pesticide applications, particularly when it comes to home use. But she said they are safer than older pesticides likeorganophosates. "I think the calls to completely ban neonicotinoids should be tempered with looking at what the alternatives are that people would be using and whether those alternatives would be better for humans, the environment, and even for bees."

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced it plans to phase out use ofneonicotinoidsin all National Wildlife Refuges by 2016

Patrick Skahill is a reporter and digital editor at Connecticut Public. Prior to becoming a reporter, he was the founding producer of Connecticut Public Radio's The Colin McEnroe Show, which began in 2009. Patrick's reporting has appeared on NPR's Morning Edition, Here & Now, and All Things Considered. He has also reported for the Marketplace Morning Report. He can be reached at pskahill@ctpublic.org.

Stand up for civility

This news story is funded in large part by Connecticut Public’s Members — listeners, viewers, and readers like you who value fact-based journalism and trustworthy information.

We hope their support inspires you to donate so that we can continue telling stories that inform, educate, and inspire you and your neighbors. As a community-supported public media service, Connecticut Public has relied on donor support for more than 50 years.

Your donation today will allow us to continue this work on your behalf. Give today at any amount and join the 50,000 members who are building a better—and more civil—Connecticut to live, work, and play.

Related Content