EPA Report Finds Pesticide Found In Cotton And Citrus Pollen Could Harm Bees

By Casey Kuhn
Published: Monday, January 18, 2016 - 8:56am
Updated: Tuesday, January 19, 2016 - 11:36am
(Photo courtesy of U.S. Department of Agriculture)
Example of citrus greening leaves.

A recent report from the Environmental Protection Agency connects the use of a pesticide in citrus and cotton to possibly harming bee colonies.

Farmers in Arizona had been using the pesticide imidacloprid for more than 20 years when the EPA first approved it.

A new EPA report showed the pest killer, which is part of a type of insecticide called neonicotinoids, could harm bee colonies.

The report showed citrus and cotton crops, both grown in Arizona, may have a higher pesticide residue in the pollen and nectar than crops like leafy vegetables. The higher residue could mean fewer bees and less honey.

Bee colonies have been collapsing at a high rate for the past decade. Peter Ellsworth is director of the Arizona Pest Management Center at University of Arizona and a pesticide expert. He said the reason for that isn’t just one pesticide.

“There’s a large number of scientists looking at honey bee nutrition, parasites and diseases of honey bees that have also been a correlation to this problem,” Ellsworth said.

Citrus farmers rely on the insecticide to kill off a bug that spreads an incurable disease in the orchards.

For now, pesticides are still being studied to see whether they affect bees, but the EPA has temporarily stopped the approval of new neonicotinoid pesticide uses until more research is done.

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