I’ve been in contact with an outdoor shelters company called Sun Leisure, who designed the infographic below and asked if I would share it. The graphic originally featured some US stats on honey bees – I gave feedback suggesting that stats on bumbles and other bee species should be included too.
To my surprise, they have been incredibly willing to listen to feedback and do further research, the outcome being that Chris at Sun Leisure updated the infographic stats. You can see an interactive version of the infographic at sun-leisure.com/blog/neonics-bees-infographic – I’m sure they would be interested to hear what you think. If you ask they might also reveal why an outdoor shelters company is creating bee themed infographics!
I also recommend reading Philip Strange’s recent blog post ‘Perfect poisons for pollinators‘, which highlights the results of Dave Goulson’s research into whether flowering plants sold in UK garden centres have been treated with chemicals which are actually toxic to bees. Unfortunately the results were not good, but at least as a result of the research B&Q have announced they will be going neonics-free (but not necessarily free of other bee-toxic chemicals) from February 2018.
Copyright Sun Leisure 2017
EDIT: Since publishing this post, new 2017 research has been published in Science that found negative effects from neonics on honey bees studied in Hungary and the UK:
- Country-specific effects of neonicotinoid pesticides on honey bees and wild bees
(Vol 356, Issue 6345, 30 June 2017)
- Pesticides damage survival of bee colonies, landmark study shows
(The Guardian, 29 June 2017)
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Hi Emily. Thought provoking blog. Thank you. As a hobbyist beek of thirty years I still can’t make up my mind about neonics, whether they really are the problem some are claiming them to be. Is there definitive evidence that they are harmful to bees at the exposure concentrations in the field? I’d like a world where all our crops are organic, but I understand farmers have to be profitable as well. What are the alternatives?
Thanks for posting this Emily.
Simonqrice asked for definitive evidence that neonics are harmful to bees at exposure concentrations in the field. The 2015 Rundlof study from Sweden provides just this. Here is a link to my summary of the study which also contains links to the original work: https://philipstrange.wordpress.com/2015/05/01/bees-and-neonicotinoids-another-twist-in-the-tale/
The alternative is to use other pesticides but only when they are needed, (neonics are used prophylactically).
Thanks Philip for the information. Interesting read. I will find the original Nature publication.
What about the challenge of using the older pesticides, which are often required at higher concentrations and have to be sprayed?
As Emily says below, the aim would be to use only when required, hopefully not at all
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Hi Simon, I am not a scientist or a neonics expert so don’t think I can give you a definitive answer on whether there is definitive evidence. But from what I understand from talks I’ve attended over the years and from reading the research of Dr Dave Goulson and others, there is a great deal of evidence that field-level doses of neonics are dangerous to bumbles. For other bee species the evidence is less clear cut.
One alternative to neonics would be IPM (integrated pest management), using traditional ways of pest control such as crop rotation and only resorting to chemicals when pests get out of control.
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Attractive and informative and I’m impressed they listened to your feedback. Are those bees on the left living in a paper wasp nest?
Glad you like it, I was impressed too. Think some artistic licence has been used with the home of those bees!
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I think it’s terribly sad that the plants labelled as bee-and-pollinator friendly in garden centres are sold treated with bee-and-pollinator unfriendly pesticides and fungicides. Also can’t understand why people use pesticides/fungicides/weed killer in the garden? Must a garden look that perfect to be beautiful and enjoyable? I’d rather a few weeds crept through and go on enjoying the buzz of bees and the flutter of butterflies. I know that I told you recently that we’ve stopped buying plants from garden centres for this reason and are propagating more of the plants in our garden ourselves. I hope this brings more bees and butterflies back to our garden. Love the infographic here 🙂
Me neither, but so many people have this idea that flowers don’t belong in a lawn. It’s lucky some gardeners like you still exist!
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Flowers look beautiful in a lawn and Round Up is definitely banned from our garden so the dandelions, daisies and even the bindweed are here to stay 😉
Excellent infographic (unless you are a neonic manufacturer or supplier I suppose). RH
Ha! My neonics industry readers are keeping quiet.
Important new information in the press today about the seriously damaging effects of neonics on bees, including honeybees: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/jun/29/pesticides-damage-survival-of-bee-colonies-landmark-study-shows
Thanks Philip – just as I had given poor Chris the advice that bumbles seemed to be more affected than honey bees, according to the research, a new study comes out that proves the negative effects on honey bees too! It’s very hard to make an infographic about such a complex subject, our understanding of how neonics impact the environment is constantly developing.
The whole story does seem to be looking very complex.