A Cornell University Study has determined that the use of pesticides on New York farms increased the massive die off in the area. The researchers determined that the use of conventional pesticides on wild bees drastically declined the bee population.
The research study consisted of analyzing the wild bee population in 19 apples orchards across the state of New York between 2011 and 2012. The research data was differentiated by a class of pesticides (fungicide, insecticide, herbicides), and timing of applications (before, during, and after flower bloom).
“Because production of our most nutritious foods, including many fruits, vegetables and even oils, rely on animal pollination, there is an intimate tie between pollinator and human well-being,” said Mia Park, an assistant professor at the University of North Dakota and the paper’s first author, who worked on the study as a Cornell entomology PhD graduate student.
The research study findings determined that Wild Bee numbers declined significantly as pesticide use increased, but the overall impact of pesticides on wild bees was found to be highest in generations following pesticide exposure, specifying that pesticides affect bee reproduction or offspring. In general fungicides had a measurable impact on wild bee abundance due to the high and repeated exposure for this finding. Past studies had specified the opposite impact.
The new study has relevance due to the proposals developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and President Obama’s National Pollinator Health Strategy. The new changes call for “temporary pesticide-free zones” while beekeepers are under contract with farmers for pollination services.
“We found there is a negative response of the whole bee community to increasing pesticide use,” said PhD candidate and lead author Mia Park.