Bees Are Dying Off. Tiny QR Code Backpacks May Help Save Them

WIRED

Science hasn't been giving us a tremendous amount of good news these days. We've screwed up the environment so badly, it's hard to even call it an environment anymore. And that's coming back to bite (or sting) us: Bee populations, which we rely on to pollinate our crops, are plummeting. But science is also coming to the rescue, by gluing QR codes to bumblebees' backs and tracking their movements with a robotic camera. Researchers have created a system that tracks individual bees as well as the dynamics of whole colonies exposed to imidacloprid, a neurotoxin that belongs to the infamous neonicotinoid group of pesticides.


Bee-harming pesticides are declining at plant nurseries, report shows

Los Angeles Times

Retailers appear to be selling fewer ornamental plants laced with pesticides linked to bee population declines, according to a new report. Less than a quarter of the trees and flowers from stores and nurseries tested by environmental activists contained pesticides at levels that could be harmful to bees, which are vital to pollinating many of the nation's food crops. Two previous reports, in 2013 and 2014, revealed that more than half of the samples contained potentially dangerous levels of chemicals linked to bee deaths. "Our data indicates that compared to two years ago, fewer nurseries and garden stores are selling plants pre-treated with systemic neonicotinoid insecticides," said Susan Kegley, a chemist at the Pesticide Research Institute and lead author of the report released Tuesday by the institute and Friends of the Earth. Neonicotinoids, which mimic nicotine insecticides produced naturally in leafy plants, have been linked to the decline of bee populations.


Spying on bees reveals pesticides impair social behavior

Daily Mail

Pesticides can impair the behaviour of bumble bees and affect their ability to eat and rear their young, a new study has shown. The research, which allowed humans to take a closer look at the bee in its environment, revealed how the pesticide neonicotinoid can harm its behaviour. The findings add to a long-standing list of concerns about these critical pollinators for that pollinate 70 of the around 100 crop species that feed 90 per cent of the world. The study was published in Science journal and compared the behaviour of bees exposed to pesticides and bees who weren't. Researchers placed cameras inside 12 specially made boxes that contained one chamber for a nest and another chamber for foraging.


Spying on bees reveals pesticides impair social behavior

Daily Mail

Pesticides can impair the behaviour of bumble bees and affect their ability to eat and rear their young, a new study has shown. The research - which allowed humans to take a closer look at the bee in its environment - revealed how the pesticide neonicotinoid can harm its behaviour. Neonicotinoids are a class of insecticides chemically similar to nicotine. The most commonly used to control weeds and pests are Bayer and Ortho products. The findings add to a long-standing list of concerns about these critical creatures that pollinate 70 of the around 100 crop species that feed 90 per cent of the world.


Bedbugs have developed a thicker 'skin' to fight back against insecticides, scans reveal

Daily Mail - Science & tech

They live in the cracks and crevices of beds and crawl out a night to suck blood by detecting our body heat and carbon dioxide. And now the global resurgence in bed bugs over the past two decades could be explained by the fact the much loathed critters have developed a thick skin. It's been long thought bed bugs survive because of their resistance to insecticides, and now this thicker cuticle reveals why. Using scanning electron microscopy, researchers studied the thickness of cuticles taken from specimens of bed bugs (stock image) resistant to insecticides and from those more easily killed. The research was carried out at the University of Sydney and published in the journal Plos One.