After speaking to various beekeepers and several experts on the subject from Penn State University and the Florida Department of Agriculture, we knew very well that pesticides played at least one vital role in the multi-pronged issue of CCD. We knew that the chemicals contained in systemic pesticides (a combination of pesticides and fungicides) had unforeseen synergistic effects on bee larvae and bee immune systems.
However, Thompson cites a new study from the University of Maryland into the effects of antibiotics. The report, Killing Them with Kindness? In-Hive Medications May Inhibit Xenobiotic Efflux Transporters and Endanger Honey Bees explore the use of antibiotics widely used in the bee industry, such as oxytetracycline, and suggest that they’re preventing bees from effectively excreting widely used pesticides thus the “Catch 22” in Thompson’s title.
So, if we stopped feeding the honeybees pesticides, we expose them to pests like tracheal mites and the Varroa destructor mite. If we stop feeding them antibiotics, we expose them to a whole other range of pathogens and bacteria like American foulbrood (ironically present in Australia at the moment). So, we must continue using both, and we know that the antibiotic-induced inability to void common pesticides led to death rates of up to 51 percent in the study.