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Exposure to pesticides results in smaller worker bees

RATE THIS! +34
Posted in Science on 20th Jan, 2014 10:23 PM by AlexMuller

Exposure to a widely used pesticide causes worker bumblebees to grow less and then hatch out at a smaller size, according to a new study by Royal Holloway University of London.

 

The research, published today in the Journal of Applied Ecology, reveals that prolonged exposure to a pyrethroid pesticide, which is used on flowering crops to prevent insect damage, reduces the size of individual bees produced by a colony.

 
The researchers, Gemma Baron, Dr Nigel Raine and Professor Mark Brown from the School of Biological Sciences at Royal Holloway worked with colonies of bumblebees in their laboratory and exposed half of them to the pesticide.
 
The scientists tracked how the bee colonies grew over a four month period, recording their size and weighing bees on micro-scales, as well as monitoring the number of queens and male bees produced by the colony.
 
"We already know that larger bumblebees are more effective at foraging. Our result, revealing that this pesticide causes bees to hatch out at a smaller size, is of concern as the size of workers produced in the field is likely to be a key component of colony success, with smaller bees being less efficient at collecting nectar and pollen from flowers," says researcher Gemma Baron from Royal Holloway.
 
The study is the first to examine the impact of pyrethroid pesticides across the entire lifecycle of bumblebees. The topical research is at the heart of a national Bee Health Conference running in London from Wednesday to Friday this week (22-24 January 2014).
 
Professor Mark Brown said: "Bumblebees are essential to our food chain so it's critical we understand how wild bees might be impacted by the chemicals we are putting into the environment. We know we have to protect plants from insect damage but we need to find a balance and ensure we are not harming our bees in the process."
 
Given the current EU moratorium on the use of three neonicotinoid pesticides, the use of other classes of pesticide, including pyrethroids, is likely to increase.

Tags: beespesticideenvironmentnatureinsects

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Comments

Author: Guest
Posted: 2014-01-21
+2
It would be important to find the balance between protecting plants by using pesticides and the effect on other life including bees. Researchers have more to do in this direction
2 Replies
Author: Guest
Posted: 2014-01-21
+0
I agree. It will be essential to understand the full impact of pesticides and conducting such studies needs to be a priority for scientists and governments
2 Replies
Author: Guest
Posted: 2014-01-21
+1
It would be important to aim for better understanding of Colony Collapse Disorder – a worldwide phenomenon in which all the worker bees in one colony spontaneously disappear. Reply
Author: Guest
Posted: 2014-01-21
+0
Yes, bees are integral to the pollination of major crops around the world, so the more that we understand how they go about their business, the better we can facilitate the process and thereby boost yields. Reply
Reply
Reply
Author: Guest
Posted: 2014-01-21
+2
It was recently reported that exposure to pesticides at levels bees encounter in the field, has subtle impacts on individual bees, and can eventually make colonies fail. A small thing becomes a big problem! Reply
Author: Guest
Posted: 2014-01-21
+2
It is important to take steps towards identifying the reasons for the recent global decline of bees; this is a dangerous trend that has baffled many experts worldwide.
2 Replies
Author: Guest
Posted: 2014-01-21
+0
I found that there are many possible causes for this decline. They range from things like mites and other parasites, viruses, fungi, immune deficiencies, climate change, malnutrition, pesticides, migratory beekeeping and even speculation that the culprit is mobile phones or genetically modified crops. Reply
Reply


 

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