Scientists have discovered that pesticides in common use can harm bees, affecting the way in which bumblebees and honeybees can navigate back to the beehive using their homing capabilities.
Results of two studies were published in the journal “Science” on Thursday, March 29, 2012, showing that there is a correlation between bees and the use of neonicotinoid insecticides, which were introduced as recently as the 1990’s.
Scientist have tagged the rapid decline of bee populations as “Colony Collapse Disorder” but the findings from these studies can pinpoint that at least part of the blame for the phenomenon can be put on the use of these widely used pesticides.
Bee populations have been declining worldwide including several bumblebee species in North America and three species in Britain, which have become extinct, as well as several other bee populations in South America, Asia and the Middle East.
In the first of the two studies, a University of Stirling team, led by Dave Goulson of Stirling University in Scotland, developing colonies of bumblebees exposed to low levels of a neonicotinoid called “imidacloprid” proved to be adversely affected in less honey being produced about 85 percent fewer queens being born who produce the next generation of worker bees.
The second study, led by Mickael Henry of the French National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA) in Avignon, France, tracked bees by tagging free-range honeybees with radio-frequency identification microchips glued to their backs.
After a low dose of the neonicotinoid pesticide “thiamethoxam” had been administered, bees were two to three times more likely to die while away from their nests as the pesticide interfered with the bees' homing systems and they couldn't find their way home!
As we know, bees along with butterflies and birds are largely responsible for pollinating flowering plants and food crops which we depend on for our survival. Needless to say, without them our food supply is being seriously threatened.
We long ago determined that pesticides are bad for humans, so why should it come as such a big surprise that it’s bad for bees and other life forms?