The whole world seems to be learning how important honeybees are to our environment and that our honeybees and other insects are having problems surviving. Because of this lately there has been a big push to ban neonictinoids to save our honeybees. However, this action is missing the real culprit, glyphosate; the main ingredient in Roundup. But Monsanto, which makes Roundup, is so huge and powerful that no University researchers want to go against the company's statements that Roundup only affects plants.
Roundup is the real cause of CCD in honeybees. I have been studying the effects of Roundup on honeybees for 20 years. It makes the field force, those adult bees that are collecting the nectar and pollen, so sick that they do not return to the hive. Honeybees know that if they die in the hive other bees will have to waste time carrying out their dead bodies, so if possible a honeybee will die away from the hive. But before they die they will unknowingly make a couple of trips bringing some of the contaminated honey and pollen back to the hive, which is converted into royal jelly in a gland in the worker bee's head, is fed to the young larvae, and kills them.
If the queen is laying many eggs a day she has to be fed a lot of royal jelly. If the royal jelly is contaminated too much it will kill her. Within three days all the older bees, which are the hive's field force, will have died out in the field, and cannot return to the hive. Because so much food is needed in the hive the younger adult bees will try to take over their older sisters' jobs and become field bees, and they too, do not return to the hive after a few trips to the field. So the population of bees in the hive rapidly decreases. The young larvae are all being killed by the contaminated food and the queen may be killed if she is fed too much of it. So we have a case of CCD. The population of honey bees in a hive has crashed with no dead bees being seen near the hives.
Most of the adult bees are gone, the young larvae are killed, and if the queen is also killed, the colony has no way of producing a new one. This can all happen in a matter of three days. Sometimes the queen will abscond or leave the hive, with only a few hundred of her workers that are still alive, but their chances of survival are almost nil.
Many of the combs which remain in the hive are contaminated with glyphosate from the dead larva in the cells and the contaminated honey and pollen that was stored in the cells, so much so that new bees may not use them. A new swarm will not even consider moving into the hive and wax moths and other insects do not enter the hive as well. They seem to know the comb is bad for them. The contaminated combs may force a new package of bees, which has been placed in the hive, to abscond or leave, rather than try to live with the contamination. Or they just may not use some of the combs that are contaminated.
In fact, some combs get so “hot” chemically that the bees don't want to even walk on them. If there is no other room in the hive the bees may actually try to tear the combs apart and build new combs. But this takes lots of bees for as the bees tear apart the comb they get sick and leave the hive to die, so they just drop the pieces of old comb to the bottom of the hive, where other bees will cover it with propolis. If this happens the population of bees in the hive may not increase as normal or it may gradually decrease, if the bees cannot produce young at a faster rate than the other adults are prematurely dying.
But honeybees are not the only insects affected by Roundup. It kills most all of the insects that are in the sprayed field or nearby. Before these insects die they will have glyphosate in the their bodies and insect eating birds that feed on those insects die as well. That is why brown thrashers, catbirds, bluebirds, goldfinches, orioles, flycatchers, wrens, chimney swifts, and blackbirds will disappear as well after a field has been sprayed with Roundup.
In other countries it has been proven that glyphosate is moving through the food chain working its way all the way up to humans mother's milk. But in this country no one even looks for glyphosate in other insects, birds, mammals, amphibians, or even humans. Could this be the same problem that our bald eagle is facing as it, too, is having trouble with its reproduction? Could glyphosate or Roundup be the DDT of the 21st century, working its way through our whole food chain?
We need to ban Roundup now before it is too late. As we know, glyphosate bioaccumulates in the environment, and as we have just learned is also carcinogenic, perhaps it may already be too late!