Harvard scientists link pesticides with bee losses

Colony collapse disorder (CCD), a condition that causes adult bees to abandon their hives in winter, has been destroying countless bee colonies since 2006. Now researchers at Harvard have compelling evidence that a class of pesticide known as neonicotinoid could be to blame. The scientists worked with 62 beekeepers in Massachusetts to collect pollen and honey samples in spring and summer, and they found that the pesticide was present in both types of samples during every month the collections were made. In fact, 70% of pollen and honey samples contained at least one neonicotinoid. Lead author Chensheng (Alex) Lu, associate professor of environmental exposure biology in the Department of Environmental Health at Harvard Chan School, believes the levels of pesticide found in the study could explain CCD. The discovery could also be valuable to the international community of beekeepers and animal health experts who are working to combat bee losses caused by the disease, which is a major threat to an estimated one-third of the world's crops that rely on pollination. Release