Science Quicktake; more bad news for bees;

Some new research has shown that one of the most common neonicotinoid pesticides is really messing with the world’s honey bees.

Previous research has already shown how neonicotinoid exposure can reduce the number of worker bees that find their way home. But this new research shows how the pesticide is damaging their flying ability.

Honeybee, Wikimedia

This particular pesticide, called Thiamethoxam is commonly used on corn soybeans and cotton, and that means it’s also getting all over the bees that pollinate those crops.

To check the effect that exposure is having on the bees, scientists from University of California San Diego built a flight mill (see below) where the bees flight could be monitored under controlled conditions.

flight mill
C. van Doormalen, Wageningen UR

What the found was that bees that had been exposed to typical levels of neonicotinoids, the non-lethal amount they might ingest while pollinating a farmer’s field resulted in “substantial damage to the honey bee’s ability to fly.”

“Our results provide the first demonstration that field-realistic exposure to this pesticide alone, in otherwise healthy colonies, can alter the ability of bees to fly,” says UC San Diego researcher Simone Tosi, “specifically impairing flight distance, duration and velocity”

Long term exposure actually decreased the bees ability to fly, and short term exposure lead to the bees actually flying farther, but more erratically.

It’s a big problem of course because of bees vital role in pollinating our food, and their numbers are declining all across the U.S.


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