LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 29: Beekeeper and Chairman of The London Beekeepers Association John Chapple installs a new bee hive on an urban rooftop garden in Hackney on June 29, 2009 in London, England. It is estimated that honeybee numbers in the UK have fallen between ten and 15 per cent in the last two years. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
Credit: Dan Kitwood

Honeybees are mysteriously disappearing in several states across the US.

The Huffington Post reported there are huge losses in Minnesota, Nebraska and Ohio. Farmers are theorizing the bees died after their hives foraged on pesticide-treated corn fields.

In an abstract from a recent Purdue University study of American honeybees, the researchers said, "Populations of honey bees and other pollinators have declined worldwide in recent years. A variety of stressors have been implicated as potential causes, including agricultural pesticides. Neonicotinoid insecticides, which are widely used and highly toxic to honey bees, have been found in previous analysis of honey bee pollen and comb material."

The researchers found honeybees were exposed to pesticides both from corn fields planted with GE corn seeds, and from flowers growing near treated fields. The group said, "These results have implications for a wide range of largescale annual cropping systems that utilize neonicotinoid seed treatments."

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Noah Wilson-Rich, Ph.D. and the Founder and Chief Scientific Officer of Best Bees Company, told CNN the phenomenon of bees both dying and disappearing is known as colony collapse disorder. 

Wilson-Rich pointed out this has happened in both the US and worldwide before. He said, "There were great die offs of honey bees reported as early as the year 950 A.D. in Ireland, called the 'Great Mortality of Bees'. This repeated in Ireland is 992 and 1443. The great die-off crossed the pond in 1903 when 2,000 colonies died in Cache Valley, Utah. Three years later, 100 percent of hives died on the Isle of Wight, UK. And then, in 1996 and again in 2006, Pennsylvania beekeepers reported alarming numbers of honey bee die offs."

The Huffington Post noted the honeybee deaths may be caused by a big marketing ploy.  

Within the last 15 years, US corn cultivation has drastically changed. It has gone from a crop requiring almost no insecticides and negligible amounts of fungicides, said the Huffington Post, to a crop where "the average acre is grown from seeds treated or genetically engineered to express three different insecticides (as well as a fungicide or two) before being sprayed prophylactically with RoundUp (an herbicide) and a new class of fungicides that farmers didn't know they 'needed' before the mid-2000s."

Wilson-Rich suggested a change of heart needs to happen in the farming community. Farmers need to go back to planting bee-friendly crops. He added, "At a minimum, encourage yourself to recognize honey bees as so much more than icky bugs, but vitally important creatures who provide us with food and flowers."

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