Minnesota bee kill update- Clothinandin & thiamethoxam found

May 7, 2013, Old Mill Honey Company reported a bee kill.  We posted a link to that incident in May.  We recently received an update from Old Mill Honey Company with the chemical analysis of his bee kill. 

The beehives were located on an approximately 60 acre piece of property owned by a gravel company, currently not in active use.  Bees were observed dead in front of the hives, as well as crawling on the ground unable to fly, many exhibited trembling and twitching on their backs unable to right themselves.   A farmer was observed out planting corn in the field adjacent to the bee yard (east), and the wind was blowing from the east SE.

The beekeeper reported his bee kill to the Minnesota dept. of Agriculture, and the EPA immediately.  The Minnesota Department of Agriculture sent out a field inspector the day after the call.  Evidence was collected from willow flower blossoms, because these were heavily flowering at the borders of the corn fields. Foraging bees were observed in various states of intoxication, stunned to permanently immobilized, dead; and on willow trees in bloom in the gravel pit.  Stored willow pollen was sampled from inside the beehives, results of the sampling are listed below.

While gathering the dead and dying bees on Wednesday, we observed many healthy bees attempting to fly off with dead or dying bees in an attempt to get them further away from the hives.  Two dead queen bees were found and placed with the other dead bees in the sample.  Dead and dying bees were observed at distances of several hundred yards away from the hives, indicating that many had flown off to die.  Bees immobilized or stunned looking were stuck to the flowers unable to fly, moving very slowly.  The temperature in the field was 68F, so the bees were not chilled. 

A pesticide company representative called 3 days after the bee kill to follow up on this incident, and wanted to arrange for a site visit by himself and a bee expert.  The pesticide company representative dug up a seed and by the color identified it as a DeKalb variety.

There were 1,312 hives of honey bees present in the holding yard on May 7, 2013.  The replacement value of these bees at this time of year (if you could find some to purchase) would be $155 minimum per hive or $203,360.  All of the hives exhibited unusual mortality symptoms described above.

(This information was excerpted from the report Steve Ellis filed with the EPA.)


Mr. Ellis provided a copy of the Analytical Test Results of his bee kill, and has given NPDF permission to post them here for information purposes.  The Gastonia, S.C. lab reports the following pesticide residues were present:


Pesticide Residue                    Result PPB

6-Chloronicotinic acid            N.A.

Acetamiprid                            N.D.

Clothianidin                            41.7

Clothianidin MNG                  N.D.

Clothianidin TMG                   N.A.

Clothianidin TZMU                N.D.

Clothianidin TZNG                 N.D.

Dinotefuran                             N.D.

Flonicamid                              N.D.

Imidacloprid                            N.D.               .

Imidacloprid  5-hydroxy         N.D.

Imidacloprid des nitro hcl       N.D.

Imidacloprid olefin                 N.D.

Imidacloprid olefin des nitro  N.D.

Imidacloprid urea                   N.D.

Thiacloprid                             N.D.

Thiamethoxam                       6.8


N.A.- Not Analyzed,  N.D.- Not Detected


In addition, the EIIS report stated: The “seed bag label was Pioneer variety P9630AM1 containing Liberty Link, Herculex Xtra, Poncho 1250 and Optimum Acre Max 1.  The seed bag tag read “This seed is treated at the manufacturer’s recommended rates with fludioxonil, mefenoxam, thiabendazole and azoxystrobin fungicides, thiamethoxam and clothianidin insecticides and Bacillus Firmus.”   Bacillus firmus is a nonpathogenic bacterium that is ubiquitous in nature and considered harmless.  [The pesticide company representative]  inspector was surprised to see thiamethoxam and clothianidin in a seed treatment  together.”  “Clothianidin is highly toxic to honey bees on an acute contact basis (LD50 > 0.0439 μg/bee).  It is probable that clothianidin and thiamethoxam alone or in combination resulted in the beekill.”


For the video link to view the effects upon these bees go to www.youtube.com/watch?v=xxXXaILuK5s