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.
The European Union plans to ban the world's most widely used insecticides in an effort to protect bees and other valuable pollinator insects. The ban, approved by member countries Friday, targets insecticide compounds known as neonicotinoids (also called neonics for short). The ban is expected to come into force by the end of the year and will prohibit outdoor use of the chemicals (they may still be used inside greenhouses). Neonics were introduced in the late 1980s as a safer alternative to older insecticides that are more toxic. Yet a growing body of research has pointed to environmental problems with their use.
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.
From habitat loss to deadly parasites and diseases, bee populations are suffering widespread collapses around the world. Now scientists claim pesticides may be playing a role too after finding they change the foraging behaviour of bumblebees on wild flowers and alter the plants they prefer to visit. This hinders their ability to learn the skills needed to extract nutritious nectar and pollen, potentially making their chances of surviving more slender. Bees and other insects pollinate many of the world's food crops and wild plants and have been threatened in recent years. The study, published today in Functional Ecology, is the first to explore how pesticides may impact the ability of bumblebees to forage from common wild flowers that have complex shapes such as white clover and bird's foot trefoil.
Of the 100 crop species that provide 90 per cent of the world's food, more than 70 are pollinated by bees. But the population of bees is in decline in places all over the world, because of changes to their habitats, availability of food and some chemicals. In Britain this is partly caused by a certain type of insecticide when used on oilseed rape crops, a new study has shown. The EU says that insecticides are, by their nature, toxic to bees. However, their use should still be possible if exposure does not occur or is minimised to levels which do not generate harmful effects.