Research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences also found that the neonicotinoids disrupt the immune systems of bees, making them susceptible to viral infections, which would explain the higher disease levels seen in bees.
Bee keeping groups and others have been filing lawsuits calling for the EPA and some states to ban the insecticide.
For its part, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture told the Legislature last week it will do a year-long study of insecticides linked to bee deaths.
If the science continues to back the conclusion that the insecticide is devastating pollinators, the EPA will need to make changes. Of course, simply banning insecticides is not a reasonable solution. Chemicals have removed plague and pestilence as a common part of life. That’s why chemical companies and researchers also need to step up efforts for better alternatives.
Until then, individuals can do some things to help the bees: Plant a variety of flowering and native plants in a yard or garden, lay off the home use of pesticide, don’t buy garden seeds coated with the systemic pesticide clothianidin (check the seed label), and buy your honey from a local bee keeper who is increasing the local bee population.