photo by Muhammad Mahdi Karim (Wikimedia Commons)

Poor bees. We steal their honey, enslave them in order to pollinate apple orchards and then have the audacity to go berserk if one of them lands in our Frappuccino.

Oh yeah, it also turns out we’re probably poisoning them with pesticides, causing their numbers to drop dramatically.

The decline of the European honeybee – known as Colony Collapse Disorder, or CCD – could in turn spell disaster for the future of monoculture crops, such as fruits, nuts, vegetables, flowers, seeds, beans and spices.

A new study has linked common pesticides with CCD, spurring environmental groups into a new effort to ban neonicotinoid pesticides.

From an article in the Guardian:

The acceptable limits are based mainly on short-term tests. If long-term studies were to be carried out, far lower concentrations may turn out to be hazardous. This explains why minute quantities of imidacloprid may induce bee decline in the long run.

–study author Dr. Henk Tennekes.

New EU rules will require pesticide companies to provide more data on long term risks to bee health, but the UK Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has said it will not restrict the use of neonicotinoids, as some other European countries, such as Germany, have done.

Besides their intrinsic value to monoculture farming, bees have other uses. Emissions control experts at Germany’s Dusseldorf airports use a large bee colony to measure air quality.

Since bees’ take in air, water and flower nectar from a 3km radius, their honey can be used to judge the air quality in that area, including jet fuel and hydrocarbons levels.

Watch this video report from Reuters for more:

Bees monitor air at German airport