Posted 01/01/11

Where is the Clamour for more Nosema/Imidacloprid Research after the Establishment of the First ever Synergistic Relationship between Nosema Sp., and Imidacloprid in Honey Bee Colony Deaths?

Eric McArthur

There is an eerie silence pervading UK, even world apiculture, which I personally find disturbing.

Honey bee colonies are dying by the thousand every year – beekeepers in the worst affected areas are frantically scouring the world for package bees and replacement queens to head queenless splits, or nuclei made from splitting surviving colonies each spring.  Many people, beekeepers and the general public alike are desperately either actively seeking, or hoping for a breakthrough in the present crisis, which could ultimately threaten the effectiveness of the agricultural industry which supplies the food on which we so deeply depended: we can’t eat TV's, automobiles or the other trappings of affluent society,  as Midas, of legend found to his cost.

Research published in December 2009, by French apicultural scientists headed by Dr. Cedric Alaux, which confirms independently, work reported verbally by Steve Pettis and Denis van Engelsdorp in interviews during the 2009, Apimondia in Montpelier, that there is a definite synergistic link between Nosema Sp., and imidacloprid, a neonicotinoid, neurotoxic pesticide, in the death of honey bee colonies.  This link further established that sub-clinical amounts of imidacloprid fed to whole bee colonies subsequently killed the colonies. 

This whole bee colony work is also a “first” – no other research has been done on whole bee colonies to establish if there was indeed a synergistic link between pesticides and honey bee diseases. titlehough such a link has long been suspected.

In the light of the findings of these respected scientists; where is the media furore which should have ensued, to ensure that further independent research of this important discovery is carried out on the Nosema link and to investigate if perhaps there are other diseases of the honey bee which are being exacerbated by synergistic interaction with this and other pesticides. 

This link could be a watershed solution to the present as yet unsolved mystery of mass, world-wide honey bee colony demise: Similar to previous watersheds; like the conquest of Everest, seemingly an impossible feat until 1953, when Tensing and Hillary did the impossible and now this mountain is treated almost as a tourist’s day out! The 4 Minute Mile was viewed as an impenetrable barrier in athletics until Roger Bannister broke that barrier.  Within a year the 4 Minute Mile was broken many times.  A precedent once set encourages a ‘possible’ focus.  So with science this synergistic disease/pesticide link when focused on by wider research could possibly highlight just how severely the honey bee is disadvantaged by particular pesticides – especially the neonicotinoids.

Questions must be asked as to why no information about the possible synergistic involvement of pesticide has been widely promulgated in the public domain? 

Is there no-one in authority in the UK beekeeping hierarchy capable of initiating a programme of public information and promoting a wide spectrum scientific investigation to prove or disprove the findings of Alaux and the American researchers?  Worse is there no political will to move against the increasing application of powerful pesticides in world agriculture to the detriment of human hetitleh?


  1. "Interactions between Nosema microspores and a neonicotinoid weaken honeybees(Apis mellifera)", which can be downloaded at   Alaux et al 2009.pdf
  2. French TV Documentary Film: “The Strange Disappearance of the Honey Bees”