In certain areas, New Zealand's bees are dying in droves.
Recently we posted a blog called The Secrets of Fine Greek Honey, where we revealed how chemicals used on agriculture crops can kill bees. Then we came across this devastating news from New Zealand.
It appears that chemicals used to plant maize crops, more commonly known in the USA as corn crops, may have wiped out hundreds of beehives in certain parts of New Zealand’s North Island including the Tauranga area. Beekeepers are losing patience and demanding that authorities investigate faster as businesses need to know how this catastrophe happened.
This 3-minute video shows the family-owned Mossop Honey business that just lost 6 million bees:
For over 70 years, beekeeper Neil Mossop’s family business has been beekeeping and honey. Nothing he’s seen over the years could have prepared him for the sight that greeted him when he was met by a huge thick carpet of dead bees. Six million dead bees in 200 hives.
He quickly ruled out that they had intentionally been poisoned, so his attention turned to the nearby corn fields, or maize paddocks as they are called locally. The beehives were not far away, so he wondered if some deadly chemicals had been sprayed. As it turns out, he may be right.
He initiated some research, and it was revealed that high concentrations of deadly neonicotinoid insecticides were identified in the corn field soil at 9 different fields in Waikato, the Bay of Plenty and the East Coast. These particular sites were chosen for testing because local beekeepers in those areas had unexplained hive losses over winter.
Dr. Chris Pook, a University of Auckland researcher based at Liggins Institute, found it remarkable that every site where soil samples were collected had high concentrations of these residues.
Maize seeds can be coated in the insecticide before they are planted, and then the chemical leaches out into the soil and into neighboring fields. The residues can be transferred to flowering weeds and wildflowers, and this exposure endangers pollinators like honeybees that forage on these plants.
Neonicotinoids have been banned in the EU since conservationists challenged agricultural spraying with this pesticide. In New Zealand you can still buy this pesticide over-the-counter but the local Environmental Protection Authority is looking into the matter.
Neil Mossop says beekeepers are very concerned because regulations surrounding the pesticide seem to be very poor. He has decided to move his hives away in the winter to prevent the death of any more of his bees.
If we hear anything more about the cause of death of these 6 million precious bees we will dedicate a new blog post to the issue since it is of great importance to the global community.
Meanwhile, bee losses are making headlines worldwide as bee populations continue to decline.