Pollinators are very important for a sustainable food supply: about 70% of our crop species are dependent on pollinators, including bees and honey bees. Abnormal high rates of bee deaths have had beekeepers in Ontario and around the world alarmed for the past decade or so.
Scientists have discovered that neonicotinoids are highly toxic to honey bee and other beneficial insects, which has caused some countries and jurisdictions, like Italy, the European Union and the province of Ontario, to place bans or restrictions on the use of this class of insecticides. In Ontario, regulations were implemented in 2015 to reduce the use of neonicotinoid insecticides by 80 per cent within two years.
In this episode, we chat with Nadia Tsvetkov, of York University in Toronto, Ontario. Nadia is the leading author of a new research article published in Science titled Chronic exposure to neonicotinoids reduces honey bee health near corn. The experiment mimicked what would occur naturally in the field. One of the main findings was that worker bees in colonies exposed to neonicotinoids die 23% sooner than those not exposed to neonicotinoids, reducing the health of the entire colony.