Late last month 25,000 bumblebees fell out of the linden trees planted around a Target parking lot in Wilsonville, Oregon, all dead. Pesticides were immediately blamed. Despite printed warnings on neonicotinoid-type bug killers stating that they should not be sprayed when bees are present, the flowering lindens were doused with Safari Insecticide, causing what The Xerces Society calls the largest mass death of bumblebees ever recorded in the United States.
Just over a month before the bees died in Oregon, the European Union passed a continent-wide ban on neonicotinoids—legislation that environmental groups praised as a significant move to curb Colony Collapse Disorder, the somewhat misleadingly distinct name given to the little-understood deaths of some 10 million hives’ worth of bees in the last six years. Oregon issued a temporary ban on the pesticides too, but nothing as broad as the European law is being considered nationally—and that may not be such a bad thing, because a new study published today in the journal PLOS ONE suggests that CCD is by no means a one-chemical problem.
“The pesticide issue in itself is much more complex than we have [been] led to believe,” the study’s lead author, Dennis vanEngelsdorp, tells Quartz. “It’s a lot more complicated than just one product, which means of course the solution does not lie in just banning one class of product.”
The research conducted by scientists at the University of Maryland and the USDA looked at the pollen honey bees brought back after pollinating a diverse group of crops: almonds, apples, blueberries, cranberries, cucumber, watermelon and pumpkins. While neonicotinoids were detected in the study, they only showed up in the pollen collected from the apple orchard.
But that’s not to say that agirucltural chemicals weren’t making their way back to the hive: “We detected 35 different pesticides in the sampled pollen, and found high fungicide loads,” the study reads. It has previously been believed that fungicides did not pose a risk to honey bees—Quartz notes that they do not bear the same warming labels about spraying them around pollinators as insecticides do—but the Maryland and USDA scientists “found an increased probability” of bees being infected by the gut pathogen Nosema ceranae when exposed to high levels of fungicides. The fungal disease can “adversely affect honey bee colony health, and can result in complete colony collapse.”
If the U.S. had banned neonicotinoids along with the E.U., there might be 25,000 more bumblebees in Oregon. But outlawing a single class of pesticides won’t solve CCD. The PLUS ONE study hasn’t identified any smoking gun either, but by offering proof that the problem is exceedingly complex, it may help engender a more nuanced, effective solution.

Flood waters from Vegas to Philly; Hawaii next

By Ed Payne, CNN
updated 2:35 PM EDT, Mon July 29, 2013

(CNN) -- Severely soggy weather soaked the East Coast to the West over the weekend, stranding travelers, washing out roads and claiming two lives.
And while the U.S. mainland cleared, Hawaii braced Monday for Tropical Storm Flossie, as the weakening, but still potent system closed on the island chain.
Life-threatening flash floods and mud slides are forecast as the storm threatens to dump up to 15 inches of rain, the National Hurricane Center said.
On the mainland
In North Carolina, flood waters washed away two people in the state's Piedmont region
The drownings happened Saturday after 4 inches of rain fell over five hours, prompting officials to declare a state of emergency in Catawba County.
Delilah Lovett, 10, of Charlotte and Juan Alberdi, 48, of Huntersville -- members of different families who were visiting the area together -- were both swimming in what is known as the "bathtub" on Wilson's Creek in Caldwell County around 6:15 p.m., the Caldwell County Sheriff's Office said.
Rain, which had already stopped, raised Wilson Creek 2 feet above normal levels and created "very swift currents" and carried them away, according to a statement from the sheriff's department.
Kayakers found Delilah's body nearly an hour after she disappeared, it said.
Search and rescue crews found Alberdi on Sunday, about a quarter mile north of where they were first told he went into the water, according to LouAnne Kincaid, a spokeswoman for Caldwell County.
In Lincoln County, a swiftwater rescue team saved two people found hanging Sunday onto a tree after their canoe tipped over in Lincolnton, North Carolina, according to emergency mangement spokesman Dion Burleson.
Catawba County officials reported 10 swiftwater rescues.
Record-setting hit Philadelphia International Airport, dumping nearly 8 inches of rain in just 6 hours. The storm knocked out power to parts of the airport, leaving some folks in the dark.
At least 33 roads in Catawba and Lincoln counties will remain closed on a long-term basis due to storm damage, officials said.
Out West
The heavy rains inundated area interstates, leaving cars stranded and traffic backed up for miles.
It was more of the same out West as heavy rain mixed with hail pounded the Las Vegas area.
The system also triggered a flash flood near the Grand Canyon, flipping a tour bus on its side and sweeping it 300 yards downstream. All 33 passengers crawled out a window to safety.
In Hawaii
Tropical Storm Flossie weakened but still brought the treat of torrential rains to the Hawaiian islands on Monday.
Tropical storm warnings were up across the islands despite a weakening trend and a slight northwestern shift that could spare parts of the islands a more significant dousing.
CNN's Janet DiGiacomo and Greg Botelho contributed to this report