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Bee Decline

May 29, 2012

Insecticide eyed as possible link to bee deaths

An ongoing investigation into honeybee deaths that struck hives across Southwestern Ontario this spring has turned up a pesticide used to protect corn and soybean seed.

Thousands of dead bees were found in piles outside hives in early May, triggering an investigation by Health Canada, the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food, and the Ontario Ministry of the Environment.

An Agricultural Ministry spokesperson said 37 samples of bees from various sites tested by Health Canada found residues of the insecticide clothianidin in 28 samples.

Clothianidin was banned in Germany after widespread honeybee deaths, and there is a campaign by U.S. beekeepers and environmental groups to have it banned there.

It is an insecticide widely used by corn and soybean growers to control pests of those crops.

Though clothianidin has been found in 28 samples, the spokesperson wrote in an e-mail that given the large number of potential factors involved, Health Canada has not drawn conclusions at this stage.

Screening for additional pesticides is still to be done and other factors relating to overall bee health are being examined, she wrote. By JOHN MINER, The London Free Press