Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Bee foraging chronically impaired by pesticide exposure: Study

Date:
July 9, 2014
Source:
University of Guelph
Summary:
A new study that involved fitting bumblebees with tiny radio frequency tags shows long-term exposure to a neonicotinoid pesticide hampers bees' ability to forage for pollen. The study shows how long-term pesticide exposure affects individual bees' day-to-day behavior, including pollen collection and which flowers worker bees chose to visit.

Bumblebee (Bombus terrestris) workers with Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags.
Credit: Richard Gill

A study co-authored by a University of Guelph scientist that involved fitting bumblebees with tiny radio frequency tags shows long-term exposure to a neonicotinoid pesticide hampers bees' ability to forage for pollen.

The research by Nigel Raine, a professor in Guelph's School of Environmental Sciences, and Richard Gill of Imperial College London was published today in the British Ecological Society's journal Functional Ecology.

The study shows how long-term pesticide exposure affects individual bees' day-to-day behaviour, including pollen collection and which flowers worker bees chose to visit.

"Bees have to learn many things about their environment, including how to collect pollen from flowers," said Raine, who holds the Rebanks Family Chair in Pollinator Conservation, a Canadian first.

"Exposure to this neonicotinoid pesticide seems to prevent bees from being able to learn these essential skills."

The researchers monitored bee activity using radio frequency identification (RFID) tags similar to those used by courier firms to track parcels. They tracked when individual bees left and returned to the colony, how much pollen they collected and from which flowers.

Bees from untreated colonies got better at collecting pollen as they learned to forage. But bees exposed to neonicotinoid insecticides became less successful over time at collecting pollen.

Neonicotinoid-treated colonies even sent out more foragers to try to compensate for lack of pollen from individual bees.

Besides collecting less pollen, said Raine, "the flower preferences of neonicotinoid-exposed bees were different to those of foraging bees from untreated colonies."

Raine and Gill studied the effects of two pesticides -- imidacloprid, one of three neonicotinoid pesticides currently banned for use on crops attractive to bees by the European Commission, and pyrethroid (lambda cyhalothrin) -- used alone or together, on the behaviour of individual bumblebees from 40 colonies over four weeks.

"Although pesticide exposure has been implicated as a possible cause for bee decline, until now we had limited understanding of the risk these chemicals pose, especially how it affects natural foraging behaviour," Raine said.

Neonicotinoids make up about 30 per cent of the global pesticide market. Plants grown from neonicotinoid-treated seed have the pesticide in all their tissues, including the nectar and pollen.

"If pesticides are affecting the normal behaviour of individual bees, this could have serious knock-on consequences for the growth and survival of colonies," explained Raine.

The researchers suggest reform of pesticide regulations, including adding bumblebees and solitary bees to risk assessments that currently cover only honeybees.

"Bumblebees may be much more sensitive to pesticide impacts as their colonies contain a few hundred workers at most, compared to tens of thousands in a honeybee colony," Raine said.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Guelph. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Richard J. Gill, Nigel E. Raine. Chronic impairment of bumblebee natural foraging behaviour induced by sublethal pesticide exposure. Functional Ecology, 2014; DOI: 10.1111/1365-2435.12292

Cite This Page:

University of Guelph. "Bee foraging chronically impaired by pesticide exposure: Study." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 July 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140709140308.htm>.
University of Guelph. (2014, July 9). Bee foraging chronically impaired by pesticide exposure: Study. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140709140308.htm
University of Guelph. "Bee foraging chronically impaired by pesticide exposure: Study." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140709140308.htm (accessed July 28, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Monday, July 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

AP (July 28, 2014) Classes are being offered nationwide to encourage African Americans to learn about cooking fresh foods based on traditional African cuisine. The program is trying to combat obesity, heart disease and other ailments often linked to diet. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge from Nest

Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge from Nest

AP (July 27, 2014) A live-streaming webcam catches loggerhead sea turtle hatchlings emerging from a nest in the Florida Keys. (July 27) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Russia Saves Gecko Sex Satellite, Media Has Some Fun With It

Russia Saves Gecko Sex Satellite, Media Has Some Fun With It

Newsy (July 27, 2014) The satellite is back under ground control after a tense few days, but with a gecko sex experiment on board, the media just couldn't help themselves. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Trees Could Save More Than 850 Lives Each Year

Trees Could Save More Than 850 Lives Each Year

Newsy (July 27, 2014) A national study conducted by the USDA Forest Service found that trees collectively save more than 850 lives on an annual basis. Video provided by Newsy
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