Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Use of common pesticide, imidacloprid, linked to bee colony collapse

Date:
April 5, 2012
Source:
Harvard School of Public Health
Summary:
The likely culprit in sharp worldwide declines in honeybee colonies since 2006 is imidacloprid, one of the most widely used pesticides, according to a new study.

Honeybee on knapweed. The likely culprit in sharp worldwide declines in honeybee colonies since 2006 is imidacloprid, one of the most widely used pesticides
Credit: Elenathewise / Fotolia

The likely culprit in sharp worldwide declines in honeybee colonies since 2006 is imidacloprid, one of the most widely used pesticides, according to a new study from Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH).

The authors, led by Alex Lu, associate professor of environmental exposure biology in the Department of Environmental Health, write that the new research provides "convincing evidence" of the link between imidacloprid and the phenomenon known as Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), in which adult bees abandon their hives.

The study will appear in the June issue of the Bulletin of Insectology.

"The significance of bees to agriculture cannot be underestimated," says Lu. "And it apparently doesn't take much of the pesticide to affect the bees. Our experiment included pesticide amounts below what is normally present in the environment."

Pinpointing the cause of the problem is crucial because bees -- beyond producing honey -- are prime pollinators of roughly one-third of the crop species in the U.S., including fruits, vegetables, nuts, and livestock feed such as alfalfa and clover. Massive loss of honeybees could result in billions of dollars in agricultural losses, experts estimate.

Lu and his co-authors hypothesized that the uptick in CCD resulted from the presence of imidacloprid, a neonicotinoid introduced in the early 1990s. Bees can be exposed in two ways: through nectar from plants or through high-fructose corn syrup beekeepers use to feed their bees. (Since most U.S.-grown corn has been treated with imidacloprid, it's also found in corn syrup.)

In the summer of 2010, the researchers conducted an in situ study in Worcester County, Mass. aimed at replicating how imidacloprid may have caused the CCD outbreak. Over a 23-week period, they monitored bees in four different bee yards; each yard had four hives treated with different levels of imidacloprid and one control hive. After 12 weeks of imidacloprid dosing, all the bees were alive. But after 23 weeks, 15 out of 16 of the imidacloprid-treated hives -- 94% -- had died. Those exposed to the highest levels of the pesticide died first.

The characteristics of the dead hives were consistent with CCD, said Lu; the hives were empty except for food stores, some pollen, and young bees, with few dead bees nearby. When other conditions cause hive collapse -- such as disease or pests -- many dead bees are typically found inside and outside the affected hives.

Strikingly, said Lu, it took only low levels of imidacloprid to cause hive collapse -- less than what is typically used in crops or in areas where bees forage.

Scientists, policymakers, farmers, and beekeepers, alarmed at the sudden losses of between 30% and 90% of honeybee colonies since 2006, have posed numerous theories as to the cause of the collapse, such as pests, disease, pesticides, migratory beekeeping, or some combination of these factors.

"In Situ Replication of Honey Bee Colony Collapse Disorder," Chensheng Lu, Kenneth M. Warchol, Richard A. Callahan, Bulletin of Insectology, June 2012


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Harvard School of Public Health. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Harvard School of Public Health. "Use of common pesticide, imidacloprid, linked to bee colony collapse." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 April 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120405224653.htm>.
Harvard School of Public Health. (2012, April 5). Use of common pesticide, imidacloprid, linked to bee colony collapse. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 2, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120405224653.htm
Harvard School of Public Health. "Use of common pesticide, imidacloprid, linked to bee colony collapse." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120405224653.htm (accessed September 2, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

We've Got Mites Living In Our Faces And So Do You

We've Got Mites Living In Our Faces And So Do You

Newsy (Aug. 30, 2014) A new study suggests 100 percent of adult humans (those over 18 years of age) have Demodex mites living in their faces. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Washington Wildlife Center Goes Nuts Over Baby Squirrels

Washington Wildlife Center Goes Nuts Over Baby Squirrels

Reuters - US Online Video (Aug. 30, 2014) An animal rescue in Washington state receives an influx of orphaned squirrels, keeping workers busy as they nurse them back to health. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Experimental Ebola Drug ZMapp Cures Lab Monkeys Of Disease

Experimental Ebola Drug ZMapp Cures Lab Monkeys Of Disease

Newsy (Aug. 29, 2014) In a new study, a promising experimental treatment for Ebola managed to cure a group of infected macaque monkeys. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Killer Amoeba Found in Louisiana Water System

Killer Amoeba Found in Louisiana Water System

AP (Aug. 28, 2014) State health officials say testing has confirmed the presence of a killer amoeba in a water system serving three St. John the Baptist Parish towns. (Aug. 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins