Beekeepers compensated in landmark decision after drifting neonicotinoids destroy hives

Monday, April 4, 2016
By Paul Martin

by: Julie Wilson
Monday, April 04, 2016

Two beekeepers were recently compensated by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, after it was proven that a widely used class of insecticides destroyed their hives last spring. Neonicotinoids, which chemically resemble nicotine, were found to have drifted onto the hives from a nearby corn field, and as a result, severely damaged the colony and killed some of the bees.

The beekeepers were compensated under a law passed in 2014, which provides reimbursement for beekeepers whose hives have been affected by acute pesticide poisoning.

“This is the first action of any state, a finding of fact, that neonicotinoids are harmful to bees,” said Sen. Rick Hansen, who sponsored the environmental law. “Once you have a state compensating people for a loss, it’s real.”

‘Dust-off’ drift

Neonics can be applied as a seed coating or sprayed directly onto the crop. Because they are systemic pesticides, neonics are taken up by the plant and transferred to its leaves, flowers, roots and stems, as well as pollen and nectar. Corn seed is routinely pre-treated with some level of neonics, which can “dust-off” and contaminate other plants.

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