• Chlorothalonil—A popular fungicide used on a wide variety of crops that other studies have implicated in colony collapse disorder. The Environmental Protection Agency lists it as a potential human carcinogen.
• Fluvalinate—Used to control mites in bees, this pyrethroid chemical turned up in nearly all honeycomb and foundation wax samples because commercial beekeepers use it to avoid devastating mite infestations that can wipe out colonies. "Potential for interactions among multiple pyrethroids and fungicides seems highly likely to impact bee health in ways yet to be determined," the study authors write.
• Atrazine—A pesticide that also contaminates human drinking water, and one that a recent study found actually castrates male frogs. While it is not directly considered toxic to bees, it's unclear how it affects organisms when it mixes with other pesticides that are common in the environment.
WHAT IT MEANS: It appears some of these chemicals are (at least partially) responsible for the annihilation of honeybees. And they're certainly not good for us, either. As Rodale Inc. CEO Maria Rodale points out in her new book, Organic Manifesto, farming chemicals are linked to all sorts of human ailments, including some cancers, diabetes, ADHD, autism, and more.
To help protect the health of your family (and the honeybees'), join the Demand Organic campaign. To learn more about why organic matters (and how to buy it on the cheap), read How to Protect Yourself from 7 Food-System Threats. To learn more about managing your own yard without using questionable chemicals that could hurt your family and beneficial critters, read 7 Chemical-Free Fixes for Common Lawn Problems.