Science

New method quickly detects bee-killing pesticides in honey

New method quickly detects bee...
If high levels of pyrethroids are detected in a beehive's honey, authorities can check to see if farmers in the area are using excessive amounts of the pesticides on their crops
If high levels of pyrethroids are detected in a beehive's honey, authorities can check to see if farmers in the area are using excessive amounts of the pesticides on their crops
View 1 Image
If high levels of pyrethroids are detected in a beehive's honey, authorities can check to see if farmers in the area are using excessive amounts of the pesticides on their crops
1/1
If high levels of pyrethroids are detected in a beehive's honey, authorities can check to see if farmers in the area are using excessive amounts of the pesticides on their crops

Although the causes of colony collapse disorder still aren't entirely understood, pesticides known as pyrethroids appear to be one of the main culprits. Thanks to a new technique, it should now be easier than ever to detect these chemicals in the honey of affected beehives.

Colony collapse disorder occurs when most of a honeybee hive's worker bees disappear. Just the queen and a few other bees are left behind, and they're ultimately unable to maintain the colony.

Possible causes include mite infestations, habitat loss and malnutrition, but pyrethroids likely also play a major role. While they're obviously not designed to target bees – since honeybees play a major role in pollinating crops – they're pretty indiscriminate, killing pest insects and beneficial insects alike.

One way of finding out if bees have been exposed to pyrethroids at nearby farms involves checking to see if the insects have passed the pesticides into their honey. That said, doing so has previously been difficult – pyrethroids are poorly soluble in water, making it hard to separate them from the honey for detection and quantification.

Now, however, scientists from Canada's University of Waterloo have devised an automated process that involves first adding a small amount of alcohol to the honey, dissolving any pyrethroids that may be suspended within it. A technique known as solid phase microextraction is then used to quickly and easily extract those pesticides, so their presence can be verified and their concentration can be measured.

"It is our hope that this very simple method will help authorities determine where these pesticides are in use at unsafe levels to ultimately help protect the honeybee population," says the lead scientist, Prof. Janusz Pawliszyn.

A paper on the research was recently published in the journal Food Chemistry.

Source: University of Waterloo

3 comments
3 comments
buzzclick
This development is encouraging. Every effort must be made to understand what has been causing colony collapse in the past 20 years. These hard-working critters are indispensable in the food chain. They pollinate our crops AND provide us with amazing honey and wax. Without them we would be screwed. Indiscriminate use of pesticides like pyrethroids is grossly irresponsible. Stupid humans should know better.
Don Duncan
The FDA doesn't test foods or chemicals. It relies on the producers to test and report. Do they? Would you report your product is unsafe if you could get away with profiting from it without much chance of punishment? Monsanto was making a $BILLION/year from Roundup for over 40 years and making false claims about its safety. People who do that are protected by laws they legally pay for, e.g., lobbying, i.e., legally bribing the legislative, executive, and judicial branches. Representatives mostly represent themselves while insisting they are "public servants". And under the universal political system where one authority has a monopoly of violence, the morally bankrupt prosper. This is how its always been. Ignorance and fear instilled by youth indoctrination and propaganda cripple the cognitive ability of the majority as they self-enslave and call it freedom.
This is what Dylan meant when he asked the question: "When will they ever learn?"
ljaques
I hope this method/product works and is respected by farmers and Big Ag so we can finally protect the bees and reverse the colony losses.