Honeybees: No Sign Of Damage Assessment Answer


No Sign of Damage to Honeybees from Neonicotinoids

The subject matter of the news article chosen is non-occurrence of damages caused to honeybees due toneonicotinoids. The honeybee is an important pollinator of agricultural crops. The importance of pollination is that it helps is production of enough seeds for propagation and dispersal, it helps in maintaining genetic diversity of the crops and it develops adequate fruits to entice seed dispersers. Honeybees, mainly Apis mellifera, are the most valuable pollinators of crop monocultures worldwide, including the United Kingdom. The yields of some fruit, seed and nut crops decrease by more than 90% without these pollinators. When wild bees do not visit agricultural fields, managed honeybee hives are often the only solution for farmers to ensure crop pollination. Fruit, vegetable or seed production from 87 of the leading global food crops is dependent upon animal pollination. Studies undertaken on pollinator needs for 264 crop species concludes that the production of 84% of these depends at least to some extent upon animal pollination (Klein et al., 2007). The general decline of the number of honey bees have been an alarming issue in the recent time. Scientists have made a conclusion that several factors in combination leads to elevated loss of colonies of honeybees (Farooqui, 2013). Regulators and investigators puts focus on the vital role of insecticides on the health of the honeybees. In particular, the neonicotinoids are the point of focus. It is a concern for the honeybee’s health (Garbuzovet al. 2015).

There is a strong scientific consensus that honeybees are in exposure to neonicotinoid pesticides in field and the result is sever harm suffered by the insects from the doses delivered. However, no much data is present on the harm caused to the honeybees and the fall in population of bees (Cataeet al. 2013). Bees and several other pollinators are crucial for many food crops. The topic of harm and damage caused to the honeybees from neonicotinoids is therefore important for discussion.

Scientific Background

Against the background of the subject matter of the news article, it is very much necessary to have a discussion on the scientific background underlying the news. The honeybee is the semi-domesticated colonial species of bees. It is a native of European countries. Honeybees are social insects, living in large colonies. These groups of insects are not only important for the environment due to the honey and other hive products but also due to their pollination services. There is a growing consensus among the scientists regarding the role of pesticides on honeybees. The most important group of pesticides are the neonicotinoids (Wanget al. 2014).

Direct mortality of bees from this pesticide is limited to rare incidences. Some opinions remain on impact of this pesticide in weakening the honeybees and making them susceptible to cold, nutritional stress and diseases. This group of pesticides is considered as major milestone for pest management programs. However, honeybees have a variety of detoxifying abilities for insecticides that result in high sensitivity and resilience to the pesticides (Laurinoet al. 2012).

In this regard, the report developed by the organisation Friends of the Earth (FOE) is of much importance. The report states that on 2013, British and European scientists urged that certain neonicotinoid chemicals (‘neonics’) should be suspended from some uses. The Task Force on Systematic Pesticides concludes that neonicotinoids are causing significant damage to a wide range of beneficial invertebrate species and are a key factor in the decline of bees. The UK Insect Pollinators Initiative (IPI) study into neonicotinoids found that significant impairment of foraging behaviour in bees exposed to field realistic levels of neonicotinoids. Exposed bees collected less pollen, took longer to take foraging trips and show no evidence of improving their ability to gather food from flowers. These effects on the behaviour of individual bees have knock on effects for their colony. On 2015, the Newcastle University undertook a study that was published in Nature, the science journal. The study concludes that bees preferred to eat solutions containing neonicotinoids, even though the consumption of these pesticides caused them to eat less food overall (foe.co.uk, 2016).

Policy or Legislation

There were several policies and legislations undertaken by the European Commission against the Neonicotinoids. During the board meeting conducted on January 2014, the CTBG decided to restrict the authorization of Imidacloprid containing plant protection products Admire 911483 N), Kohinoor 700 WG (13831 N) and Gaucho Tuinbouw (12341 N). EFSA published the ‘Scientific Opinion on the developmental Neurotoxicity potential of Acetamiprid and Imidacloprid’.

As observed in the article,  there was a complete ban of two years for Neonicotinods. However, evidences from Professor Charles Godfeyhighlighted towards the ineffectiveness of the proposal. Based on the review data of European Commission (EC), there was a ban on Neonicotinods which were used as seed dressing on the bee attractive crops such as oil seed rape due to their harmful effects. However, the article did not emphasise on any field report which can directly interrelate between the effect of Neonicotinods and bees.

CTBG invited the NGOs to submit additional points regarding the perspective, and thereby was concerned regarding the reassessment of biocidal neonicotinoids for private usage. CTBG completely withdraws the authorization of products based on clothianidin, thiamethoxam and onimidacloprid. Thus, the decision of the European Commission was implemented accordingly within the premises. By 2011, the Minister of Agriculture (of the former Ministry of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation) indicates the Parliament about the conclusions from the CTBG report of Reassessment of Neonicotinoid Containing Pesticides (Boilyet al. 2013). Thus, the usage of Neonicotinoid Containing pesticidesare completely abolished from the European states through the establishment of legislations and policies by the board of CTBG (Tokumotoet al. 2013).

Practical Implication for Farmers

Currently, farmers are using normal pesticides, which are found in the market. These insecticides contain harmful substances and chemical such as Pyriproxyfen, Novaluron, Tomadol 23-5, M-Pyrol, Agnique ME 181-U, etc. These chemical compounds affect not only on the human  body. However, they also affect insects and animals which are important for us. Bees are most affected species by the uncontrolled use of pesticides and insecticide. It is found in recent studies that insecticides, which contain Neonicotinoid, do not harm honey bees. We all know that Oilseed rape is the major crop of the United Kingdom. According to a research, 60% of crop pollination are carried out by the bees. It is also estimated that collapse of this pollination will cost the U.K. economy about £1.8 billion per year (Anon, 2016). However, due to lack of awareness, most of the farmers and do not know about this finding (Alburakiet al. 2015). As a result, most of the farmers and pest control agencies are still using the substances, which affect the honey bees. For the betterment of the current situations, people should be made aware with proper public awareness programs. It is known that. Bees play a vital role in the germination processes in plants through flowers. It helps to produce fruits and vegetables, which are produced from the germination. General pesticide harm the honeybees, as a result the no. of honey bees are decreasing (Kimuraet al. 2014). This emphasizes the aspect that, due to this phenomenal production of fruits and vegetables are also decreasing. Ultimately, the whole cycle affects the farmers economically. If the farmers are made aware about the consequences and events of the situation.Then they will also choose Neonicotinoid containing insecticides instead of normal insecticides. As we, all know that, currently used insecticides are also harming the entire ecosystem, so the farmers are needed to address straight away (Araneda, Cumianand Morales, 2015). The issue is a serious one and it affects the farmers economically. Programs such as public farmer awareness events should be carried out. Government should also try to apply intervention such as special offers or incentives for farmers who uses pesticides containing Neonicotinoid. This will help the farmers to motivate. Scientific education regarding the whole situation should also be given to farmers. The best way to motivate farmers to use insecticides containing Neonicotinoid is educate them with the knowledge of the advantages of insecticides containing Neonicotinoid (Oliveiraet al. 2014). Through the years, the Government of U.K. has registered five neonicotinoids for use. These derivatives are imidacloprid, aceta miprid, thiacloprid, clothianidin and thiamethoxam. In the year of 2010, use of neonicotinoid was about 79,940 across 1,270,707 ha. Compared to the year 42,285 kg across 1,270,707 ha (Anon, 2016).


Honey bees are vital to global biodiversity and food security through their pollination of plants, including several key crops. Overwhelming evidence now suggests that bee populations are in decline, likely because of pesticides. The present article shows that not much harm is done to the bees due to the use of neonicotinoids. Therefore, a controversy prevails regarding this matter. This indicates the need of more number of future studies to be taken up for having a definite conclusion on whether this particular pesticide has a significant impact on the population of honey bee. 

Thus, from the data related to the articles mentioned above, it can be concluded that the farmers are becoming more aware about the significances of using Neonicotinoid. It is observed that, for past several years, use of neonicotinoid has increased. The government has also allowed five derivatives to be registered. With proper farmer awareness programs and government events, use of neonicinoid will increase further which will decrease the harm to bees.


Alburaki, M., Boutin, S., Mercier, P.L., Loublier, Y., Chagnon, M. and Derome, N., 2015. Neonicotinoid-Coated Zea mays Seeds Indirectly Affect Honeybee Performance and Pathogen Susceptibility in Field Trials.

Araneda, X., Cumian, M. and Morales, D., 2015. Distribution, epidemiological characteristics and control methods of the pathogen Nosemaceranae Fries in honey bees Apismellifera L.(Hymenoptera, Apidae). Archivos de MedicinaVeterinaria, 47(2), pp.129-138.

Badawy, M.E., Nasr, H.M. and Rabea, E.I., 2015. Toxicity and biochemical changes in the honey beeApismellifera exposed to four insecticides under laboratory conditions. Apidologie, 46(2), pp.177-193.

Barron, A.B., 2015. Death of the bee hive: understanding the failure of an insect society. Current Opinion in Insect Science, 10, pp.45-50.

Boily, M., Sarrasin, B., DeBlois, C., Aras, P. and Chagnon, M., 2013. Acetylcholinesterase in honey bees (Apismellifera) exposed to neonicotinoids, atrazine and glyphosate: laboratory and field experiments.Environmental Science and Pollution Research, 20(8), pp.5603-5614.

Catae, A.F., Roat, T.C., Oliveira, R.A., Ferreira Nocelli, R.C. and Malaspina, O., 2013. Cytotoxic effects of thiamethoxam in the midgut and malpighian tubules of Africanized Apismellifera (Hymenoptera: Apidae). Microscopy research and technique, 77(4), pp.274-281.

Farooqui, T., 2013. A potential link among biogenic amines-based pesticides, learning and memory, and colony collapse disorder: A unique hypothesis. Neurochemistry international, 62(1), pp.122-136

Garbuzov, M., Couvillon, M.J., Schürch, R. and Ratnieks, F.L., 2015. Honey bee dance decoding and pollen-load analysis show limited foraging on spring-flowering oilseed rape, a potential source of neonicotinoid contamination.Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, 203, pp.62-68.

Goss, J., 2014. Neonicotinoids and honeybee health.

Gross, M., 2013. EU ban puts spotlight on complex effects of neonicotinoids. Current Biology, 23(11), pp.R462-R464.

Kimura, K., Yoshiyama, M., Saito, K., Nirasawa, K. and Ishizaka, M., 2014. Examination of mass honey bee death at the entrance to hives in a paddy rice production district in Japan: the influence of insecticides sprayed on nearby rice fields. Journal of Apicultural Research, 53(5), pp.599-606

Laurino, D., Manino, A., Patetta, A., Romano, A. and Porporato, M., 2012. Quantitation of neonicotinoid insecticide residues in experimentally poisoned honey bees. Julius-Kühn-Archiv, (437), p.125.

Oliveira, R.A., Roat, T.C., Carvalho, S.M. and Malaspina, O., 2014. Side‐effects of thiamethoxam on the brain andmidgut of the africanized honeybee Apismellifera (Hymenopptera: Apidae). Environmental toxicology, 29(10), pp.1122-1133.

Purdy, J.R., 2015. Monitoring in-hive residues of neonicotinoids in relation to bee health status. Julius-Kühn-Archiv, (450), p.276.

Tokumoto, J., Danjo, M., Kobayashi, Y., Kinoshita, K., Omotehara, T., Tatsumi, A., Hashiguchi, M., Sekijima, T., Kamisoyama, H., Yokoyama, T. and Kitagawa, H., 2013. Effects of exposure to clothianidin on the reproductive system of male quails. Journal of Veterinary Medical Science,75(6), pp.755-760.

Van der Sluijs, J.P., Simon-Delso, N., Goulson, D., Maxim, L., Bonmatin, J.M. and Belzunces, L.P., 2013. Neonicotinoids, bee disorders and the sustainability of pollinator services. Current opinion in environmental sustainability, 5(3), pp.293-305.

Wang, K., Qi, S., Mu, X., Chai, T., Yang, Y., Wang, D., Li, D., Che, W. and Wang, C., 2014. Evaluation of the Toxicity, AChE Activity and DNA Damage Caused by Imidacloprid on Earthworms, Eiseniafetida. Bulletin of environmental contamination and toxicology, 95(4), pp.475-480.

Klein, A., Vaissiere, B., Cane, J., Steffan-Dewenter, I., Cunningham, S., Kremen, C. and Tscharntke, T. (2007). Importance of pollinators in changing landscapes for world crops. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 274(1608), pp.303-313.

foe.co.uk, (2016). [online] Available at: https://www.foe.co.uk/sites/default/files/downloads/neonicotinoids-bees-scientific-studies-increase-case-permanent-ban-78704.pdf [Accessed 6 Jan. 2016].

Anon, (2016). [online] Available at: https://www.wildlifebcn.org/sites/default/files/neonicotinoid_position_statement_final_october_2012.pdf [Accessed 6 Jan. 2016].

Anon, (2016). [online] Available at: https://www.wildlifebcn.org/sites/default/files/neonicotinoid_position_statement_final_october_2012.pdf [Accessed 6 Jan. 2016].

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