Several people have asked me for more information about neonicotinoid pesticides and how to avoid them. Google will reveal extensive information on this topic, and to save you some time, I have compiled some of the more useful-looking material into a library - feel free to download anything from here.
A number of people have asked if they should use organically grown sugar. As a supporter of organic farming, I would love to say an unequivocal 'yes', but apart from the considerable extra cost, I have yet to see any really 'white' organic sugar - it always seems to have a slightly brown tinge, which may indicate the presence of residues that may cause digestive problems to the bees. I don't know the answer to this one, but when considering feed, we have to remember that we are trying to mimic nectar, which essentially comprises sucrose, glucose and fructose in varied proportions, plus a sprinkling of trace minerals. Refined, white cane sugar may be as close as we can get at reasonable cost.
Finally, consider this warning from a German beekeeper, in a statement to the Apimondia gathering in Freiburg. (Clothianidin is another neonicotinoid, closely related to Imidacloprid):
"In Germany clothianidin is used since 2004. It is used as seed protection for sugar beets and corn. As well as for fumigation of barns and stables. It accrues as decomposition product of other pesticides.
Already in some regions the concentration in the soil is that high, that beekeeping is not possible any more in such regions. It's alarming that butterflies, hoverflies, chrysopids and many other beneficial insects are eliminated or respectively almost eliminated."
Read the full text here.
There is a growing movement to have the neonicotinoids banned in the UK, as is the case in several other European countries. They are extremely dangerous to bees and all other insects, and thus the birds and other animals that rely on insects for food. I urge you to take this threat seriously: only by acting in unison can we counteract the massive financial vested interests behind the promotion of these poisons.