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Its not a mystery, its the pesticides. Bayer's been leading the "search for the real killer" in an effort that would make OJ Simpson proud.

My step-dad is an avid beekeeper, and an organic urban farmer. Its been "known" for years amongst that community that the collapse is caused by pesticides. Bayer has done an amazing job keeping this labeled a "mystery".

I wouldn't say this is so obvious. There is also an study that the microwaves (from mobile phones) are affecting the bees and the birds.

[Random link]: http://www.beeman.ca/sitebuildercontent/sitebuilderfiles/mob...

Unless cellphones and microwaves were suddenly introduced in 2005 then that is rubbish.

AFAIK cellphones predominantly used 700-900MHz band in the past, and moved to ~2GHz band recently for HSPA/4G LTE

Also there has been a lot of usage of 2.4GHz devices in recent years.

>>Also there has been a lot of usage of 2.4GHz devices in recent years.

bluetooth? - low power, doesn't travel far

wifi - been around long before 2005

cell phones - don't use 2.4 unless BT or wi-fi, have also been in the 1800/1900 gsm bands long before LTE/data networks

microwave ovens - been around forever.

Doesn't seem to add up.

not saying RF doesn't hurt, just playing devils advocate.

So, while the EPA, USDA, European Food Safety Authority, and leagues of scientists have studied the issue and have not found a single obvious contributing factor -- and actually instead have found evidence to suggest that colony collapse may be caused by a conjunction of many different causes -- you are here announcing to all of us that Its not a mystery, its the pesticides?

Do you have any scientific backing for your claims aside from... your step-dad "knowing" things?

I found these papers through a link trail beginning with a HuffPo article further down the page, but I'm directly linking them here due to relevance.

There seem to be multiple studies indicating that 'neonic' pesticides are responsible for large portions of Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) symptomology [1,2,3]. However, your skepticism is not entirely unjust. Other scientists have linked portions of CCD to various factors involved in industrial bee culture, including artificial insemination of queens and lack of biodiversity.

[1] - Assessment of the environmental exposure of honeybees to particulate matter containing neonicotinoid insecticides coming from corn coated seeds.


[2] - In situ replication of honey bee colony collapse disorder


[3] - Neonicotinoid Pesticide Reduces Bumble Bee Colony Growth and Queen Production


It is worth noting that the second paragraph says: But beekeepers and some researchers say there is growing evidence that a powerful new class of pesticides known as neonicotinoids, incorporated into the plants themselves, could be an important factor.

That statement also has no supporting evidence. So no, it's not worth noting.

Specifically the statement says one kind of pesticide "could be" an important "contributing factor". It's no smoking gun.

I submitted a story yesterday: (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5454528)

There have been calls for some restrictions of neonicitinoid use (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-21277933) but research is ongoing and it's important to take evidence based action. (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-21793365)

Being careful with the science is a very different position from 'the science is bunk'.

Thing is, while the research is ongoing we are taking the default dangerous route of letting neonicitinoid still be used which seems totally back-to-front to me when the consequences could be so severe.

With new chemicals that have concerns like this I would have thought a "guilty until proven innocent" approach would be more advisable.

Last thing we want is "Oh yes it was that stuff, sorry about that, any bees left?"

FWIW the EU is proposing to ban neonicotinoids. This article from Salon gives the history and supporting evidence: http://www.salon.com/2013/03/21/without_honeybees_we_may_cea...

It's the second paragraph of a NY Times article. Such things don't tend to embed supporting evidence along with claims, but it's usually a good indicator that there is supporting evidence.

We do known that Clothianidin caused the bee deaths in Baden-Württemberg (Germany) in 2008[1], which led to a ban for corn seeds[2].

[1] http://idw-online.de/pages/de/news264587 (press release by Julius Kühn institute, German)

[2] http://www.gesetze-im-internet.de/maispflschmv/BJNR502300009... (neonicotinoid ban for corn seeds, German)

Leave it up to Monsanto to figure it out: http://naturalsociety.com/monsanto-bee-collapse-buys-bee-res...

We always fall into the "well there's one powerful interest group that wants this to not come out" Guess what? There are multiple powerful ($billion industries + government) desperate to get to the answer. For that reason I would worry more in this case that we'll try and find a scape goat and not do the deep dive than be the victim of some pesticide cover up.

I don't know what you're talking about regarding the European Food Safety Authority -- everything I read seems to suggest they've pretty much concluded that it's the pesticides.

Really? Where are you reading that exactly? The European Food Safety Authority has done a formal peer review of independent studies and found reason to suggest that neonicotinoids pose a risk to colony survival and development. That is far from a conclusion that Colony Collapse Disorder can be attributed entirely or even mostly to pesticides.

[*] http://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/efsajournal/pub/3066.htm

So, while you are technically correct that the EFSA has not in fact "concluded" that the bees are dying because of the pesticides, I cannot help but question whether you merely being overly pedantic, or downright disingenuous. The context in which the EFSA qualified their findings has more to do with the methodology of the studies studied by their study than the discovery of any data to indicate that their conclusions may be invalid. Given that, in response to this study, the E.C. called for a two year ban on some of the pesticides in question, I'm not sure what the point you're trying to make is.

The point is that finding that said pesticides are harmful to bees is not the same as finding that colony collapse disorder is caused solely or primarily by those pesticides. Assuming so may blind you to other important factors. I really don't get what's so hard to understand.

Seems like there's a fair bit of evidence around neonicotinoids being the cause.


I really don't feel like the EPA or USDA has our backs. Those organizations tend to be pretty well integrated with lobbyists from large agro-corps.

"Regulatory capture occurs when a regulatory agency, created to act in the public interest, instead advances the commercial or special concerns of interest groups that dominate the industry or sector it is charged with regulating. Regulatory capture is a form of government failure, as it can act as an encouragement for firms to produce negative externalities. The agencies are called "captured agencies"."


Well, also be sure to take into account the people that get placed into the leading positions of the EPA, and USDA - typically industry/Monsanto heads. Those organizations are not as altruistic as we would like to believe.

Here's the problem with " you have no proof" mindset: why not apply this to the other side of the equation? Bayer and others want to use chemicals in new places to give us a benefit and them a great benefit. Why shouldn't they be asked to prove that their chemicals will do no harm? The fact is, in our "release it first and wait for absolute 100% proof that it does harm", there are many, many examples of harm being done, even in the pharma industry where the subjects consuming the product are humans, and not several generations away from them.

What's easier to believe?

1) The pesticides used on plants are perfectly safe and there's a much more complex answer to this mystery, or 2) Bayer's self interest prevents them from even caring to do the research to find if the chemicals they use are safe for bees, and the chances are that they are not safe.

Just on the face of it, #2 is far more likely than #1.

We don't have evidence that proves either, though, so I'm going to say we should be conservative and try to mitigate the problem by reigning in the pesticides.

Why shouldn't they be asked to prove that their chemicals will do no harm?

Because neither science nor logic in general work that way.

So while the FDA, the ATF, and leagues of scientists from the Institute for Tobacco Studies have not found a singe contributing factor, and instead have found evidence to suggest that lung cancer may be caused by a conjunction of many different causes -- you are here announcing to all of us that It's not a mystery, cigarettes cause lung cancer?

"leagues of scientists have studied the issue and have not found a single obvious contributing factor"

Well, why could there not be several contributing factors at work here?

Just picking one of your "sources", here's what the European Food Safety Authority is saying about bees on their website ( http://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/topics/topic/beehealth.htm );

> No single cause of declining bee numbers has been identified. However, several contributing factors have been suggested, acting in combination or separately. _These include the effects of intensive agriculture and pesticide use_, starvation and poor bee nutrition, viruses, attacks by pathogens and invasive species – such as the Varroa mite (Varroa destructor), the Asian hornet (Vespa velutina), the small hive beetle Aethina tumida and the bee mite Tropilaelaps – genetically modified plants, and environmental changes (e.g. habitat fragmentation and loss).

Looks like his step dad is a better source than yours.

Just out of interest, are you paid troll? Shame to see this kind of BS on HN

Just picking another, the researchers did in situ replication of pesticide doses known to be prevalent in working hives, along with control colonies that were untreated. Whats happening is that in the last decade beekeepers largely switched to feeding their colonies High Fructose Corn Syrup from corn treated with neonicotinoid pesticides. Their results:

"15 of 16 imidacloprid- treated hives (94%) were dead across 4 apiaries 23 weeks post imidacloprid dosing. Dead hives were remarkably empty except for stores of food and some pollen left, a resemblance of CCD."

While none of the control hives died.

Their conclusion:

"Data from this in situ study provide convincing evidence that exposure to sub-lethal levels of imidacloprid in HFCS causes honey bees to exhibit symptoms consistent to CCD 23 weeks post imidacloprid dosing. The survival of the control hives managed alongside with the pesticide-treated hives unequivocally augments this conclusion. The observed delayed mortality in honey bees caused by imidacloprid in HFCS is a novel and plausible mechanism for CCD, and should be validated in future studies."

> Just out of interest, are you paid troll? Shame to see this kind of BS on HN

This is the reason why I think that off topic articles like this should be mercilessly squelched. They turn into flame wars within an hour or two.

You just supported his point - the EFSA in the text you quoted say there's not any single obvious factor, but some have been suggested. We really don't know the exact cause.

Making shill claims is really not helpful.

Let's note that the EFSA stated a list of causes that includes pesticides, but his step-dad "knows" that it is all solely caused by pesticides.

It's a shame that your informative, strong, post finishes with a pointless flame.

Are you suggesting that supports his step-dad's conclusion that "it's obviously the pesticides"? What could be more clear?

"No single cause of declining bee numbers has been identified" "Several contributed factors have been suggested"

If that, in your opinion, amounts to "it's obviously the pesticides", then I guess you can think of me as some kind of troll. If, instead, you can understand that making simplistic and overreaching statements like "it's obviously the pesticides" does nothing to help the bees and instead just brings the conversation down to a third grade level, then no, I'm not a troll.

I think we need to call in the A team.. Art Bell.

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