Almond crop growers that use fungicides in almond orchards can harm the tree nut’s very own major pollinator the honey bees.
Researchers from Texas A&M University noticed that the fungicide iprodione can cause honey bees to die withing 10 days once they are exposed to amounts that are commonly used in the fields. They can cause harm irrespective of whether they are used alone or in combination with other fungicides.
How fungicides harm the honey bees?
“As per our findings, bees may face significant danger from chemical applications even when applied in small quantity,” said study author and apiculture expert Dr. Juliana Rangel.
To determine its impacts on honey bees, researchers sprayed fungicides at varying proportions and speeds via a wind tunnel. They were then allotted to different habitats and were examined for 10 days. A control group was not given any chemical treatment.
The team noticed that the bees exposed to iprodione or combined with fungicides boscalid, pyraclostrobin and azoxytrobin perished at twice or thrice the rate of unexposed bees after the 10-days span. There was a high impact when they were used in combination with other fungicides.
It is not yet clear how and why this specific fungicide is so harmful to honey bees. Past research, noted that some fungicides have large lastingness in residual amounts in honey bee wax present in hives.
In California, the almond industry produces about 80 percent of almonds used-up around the globe, according to the Almond Board of California. Also, the almond producers depend on honey bees for pollination of seeds.
Honey bees contribute about $17 billion every year to the U.S. economy with the help of pollinating major crops, including almond.
Grim future ahead
From the results, it is clear that bees around the world are under the threat due to fungicides. Bumblebees are viewed as important in various ecosystems that help in the reproduction of native wildflowers and generating seeds and fruits wildlife as different as grizzly bears and songbirds, the federal agency reported.
Disease and pesticide are the two biggest threats to the existence of bees, as pointed out by their loss of habitat.