The Problem: Herbicides and Pesticides

How does urban and agricultural weed and pest control impact bees? 

Neonicotinoids are a class of insecticide used against pest insects. The chemical poisons the nervous system upon contact or ingestion resulting in death. This insecticide does not discriminate between pest species and vital pollinators such as honeybees and native bees and are extremely lethal to all.  Sub-lethal exposure results in behavioural disturbance and disorientation, which is ultimately fatal for beehives. Exposure to neonicotinoids reduces the capacity of the hive to establish new populations, meaning after their initial population decline from exposure, they struggle to re-establish their colony. Neonicotinoids are currently registered for use in Australia and are commonly used by farmers, growers and home gardeners.  The European Union has banned neonicotinoids in an attempt to protect bees from its devastating effects. 

Neonicotinoids are systemic, meaning they can be applied through sprays, seed treatment and soil application. This means buyers should be vigilant when purchasing seeds, seedlings and soil for their garden, not just rejecting neonicotinoids in sprays. Neonicotinoid seed coatings are commonly used in food production to protect farmers profits. Make sure to ask your local supplier if their seeds are free of treatment to ensure your food is giving bees the best chance of survival. 

Glyphosate is an herbicide commonly used by farmers, gardeners and in public areas such schools and golf courses, to kill weeds by preventing them from making vital proteins. It is the active ingredient in popular weed killer ‘RoundUp’ which is owned by Monsanto Bayer and is the world’s most popular weed killer. Its traces can now be detected in 70% of global hives. The herbicide is not directly lethal to bees, but instead indirectly interferes with many vital processes of the individual and hive. 

Glyphosate tampers with plants, including their pollen and nectar- which is bee food. This tampering affects the growth of micro-organisms in the bee’s gut. Weakening the gut micro biome makes bees more susceptible to opportunistic pathogens which can kill the individual.  Food that is feed to the bee’s larvae contaminated with glyphosate results in weaker larvae who are more susceptible to additional stressors. This results in a population decline, which is the global problem we are trying to prevent.

Large companies such as Monsanto Bayer and Syngenta use these insecticides and herbicides to increase their profit yields despite being lobbied and knowing the lethal effects on bees. Avoid supporting their products and sign our petitions to ban the use of Neonicotinoids and Glyphosate in Australia. 


Consulted Sources

Auteri, D., Arena, M., Barmaz, S., Ippolito, A., Linguadoca, A., Molnar, T., Sharp, R., Szentes, C., Vagenende, B. & Verani, A., 2016, ‘Neonicotinoids and Bees: The Case of the European Regulatory Risk Assessment’, Science of the Total Environment, vol. 579, pp. 966-971. Available here

Blacquie`re, T., Smagghe, G., van Gestel, C. & Mommaerts, V., 2012, ‘Neonicotinoids in Bees: A Review on Concentrations, Side-effects and Risk Assessment‘,  Ecotoxicology, Vol. 21, Iss. 4, pp.973-992. Available here

Motta, E., Raymann, K & Moran, N., 2018, ‘Glyphosate Perturbs the Gut Microbiota of Honey Bees’, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, Vol. 115, no. 41, pp. 10305-10310. Available here

Vazquez, D., Illina, N., Pagano, E., Zavala, J. & Farina, W., 2018, ‘Glyphosate affects the Larval Development of Honey Bees Depending on the Susceptibility of Colonies’, PLoS ONE, Vol. 13, no. 10, pp. unknown. Available here

Woodcock, B., Bullock, J., Shore, R., Heard, S., Pereira, M., Redhead., J, Ridding L., Hean, H., Sleep, D., Henrys, P., Peyton, J., Hulmes, S., Hulmes, L., Sarospataki, M., Saure, C., Edwards, M., Genersch, E., Knabe, S. & Pywell, R., 2017, ‘Country-specific effects of Neonicotinoid Pesticides on Honey Bees and Wild Bees’, Science, Vol. 356, no.6345, pp. 1393-1395. Available here

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