My son is 7 now. So it was near 5 years ago that I remember talking to a friend about bees and colony collapse disorder. This is where a normal fully functioning hive of bees suddenly fails for no apparent reason. There are tons of explanations but so far none seem to have stuck.
… pesticides are typically applied to seeds — mainly of corn, but also other crops — as a sticky coating before planting. When a seed sprouts and grows, the chemicals spread through the whole plant. So insects, such as aphids, that try to eat the plant also get a dose of poison.
But could they be killing more than aphids? Krupke put up a picture of a beehive surrounded by a carpet of dead honeybees. In several places across the Midwest, there have been reports of bees dying in large numbers like this. And tests detected the presence of neonics on them.
It seemed like a mystery. How could bees come into contact with chemicals that are buried in soil with crop seeds?
Krupke put up another slide: a picture of a huge machine that’s used for planting corn. This equipment is apparently part of the answer.
These machines use air pressure to move seeds from storage bin to soil. A slippery powder — talc or graphite — keeps everything flowing smoothly. The air, along with some of the powder, then blows out through a vent.
Krupke explained how he tested that planter exhaust and found amazing levels of neonic pesticides: 700,000 times more than what it takes to kill a honeybee.
That toxic dust lands on nearby flowers, such as dandelions. If bees feed on pollen from those flowers, that dust easily can kill them. A tell-tale clue: These bee die-offs all happened during corn-planting season.
The cold spring has delayed the efforts of apiaries to split their hives so I may have to wait an extra week or 4 before I can get mine. No worries. In fact, the delay may do me well, I’ve found an acquaintance at the YMCA that is anxious to have me host one or two hives on his property to help with his garden.