We’ve thought for some time overspray and drift into rural buffer zones from insecticide treated crops affects insects, but now there is proof. A scientific study conducted in Brookings, South Dakota has concluded the strips of rural habitat being grown near cropland have unintentionally negatively affected honey bee health. Christina Mogren and Jonathan Lundgren recently published their findings indicating pollinator plantings near neonicotinoid-treated seed cropland result in an unintentional reduction in the benefits of planted pollinator habitats.
This is true even if there are organic farms interspersed within or adjacent to the herbicide-treated locations not only because of neonicotinoid dust overspray and drift, but also because of rainwater runoff and soil pathways. Although the contamination may not be strong enough to actually kill bees outright, it does weaken the viability of both the queen and the worker bees. The assumption is that this weakness may have led to the large winter kill-offs beekeepers have been complaining about, as well as reduced colony development.
Since the likelihood that crop farmers will not stop using neonicotinoid-treated seed, the conclusion is to look for ways to protect the habitats from insecticide exposure. How to do that is the big question. I’d like to read your suggestions.
Thank you Christian Nelson for bringing this research to my attention.