(ANIMAL WELFARE) The world’s honeybee population has been taking a drastic hit for a while now, but a new study may have found the source of what is commonly thought of as colony collapse disorder. Scientific journal, PLOS ONE, believes a mixture of pesticides and fungicides are contributing heavily the bee populations’ decline. Continue reading below to find out how researchers came to this conclusion, and what steps beekeepers will be taking in the future to avoid putting the honeybees in harm’s way. — Global Animal
New research suggests pesticides are linked to the recent population decline in honeybees. Photo Credit: Eric Lowenbach, Flickr
New research suggests pesticides are linked to the recent population decline in honeybees. Photo Credit: Eric Lowenbach, Flickr

MSN News, Heather Smith

A new study has pinpointed a mountain of causes for the massive death of honey bees, commonly referred to as colony collapse disorder. The results show that averting a complete disaster is going to be even harder than previously thought.

Colony collapse disorder has wiped out an estimated 10 million beehives, according to Quartz. The new study published today in the journal PLOS ONE, identified a “witch’s brew of pesticides and fungicides contaminating pollen that bees collect to feed their hives,” Quartz reported. The fungicides in particular, which are used both to protect apples from fungus and honeybees from parasites, may actually be harming honeybees instead of helping them, the study shows.

The previous culprits in the decline of bees have been noted as insecticides, parasites, monoculture and inbreeding. Without a clear culprit, various solutions are being tried. This May, the European Union passed a two-year ban on neonicotinoids, a pesticide that studies suggest interferes with honeybees’ neural development and ability to navigate.

The researchers collected pollen from several bee hives placed near seven major crops that honeybees are frequently used to pollinate. They tested the pollen for insecticides and fungicides. The pollen turned out to be full of both, which is typical for pollen collected from any plant on or near a conventional farm. They then fed the pollen to healthy bees, along with spores from Nosema ceranae, a common honeybee parasite.

The study found that honeybees that ate pollen with the high levels of fungicide were more likely to become infected with Nosema, more so even than the honeybees who ate pollen with high levels of pesticides.

Beekeepers have known for years that fields sprayed with pesticide are dangerous to bees, and try to avoid them. In the future, they’re likely to avoid crops sprayed with fungicides as well. The practice of using fungicide in hives in hopes of killing the Varroa mite, the honeybee’s worst parasite, could also decline as a result of this study.

The study also recommends that beekeepers ask about the pesticide and fungicide spraying happening not just in the fields they are pollinating, but also nearby. The modern honeybee, however, is a long-distance traveler. Even the most dedicated beekeepers will have a hard time discovering the spray regimen of every county they pass through.

More MSN News: http://news.msn.com/science-technology/whats-killing-the-bees-may-be-worse-than-thought