Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Natural pesticide impairs bumble bee foraging ability


Pesticide levels previously thought to be safe for pollinators may prove harmful to wild bee health, according to research published in Pest Management Science this month.

The Canadian study shows that adult bumble bees exposed to the pesticide spinosad during larval development – at levels they could encounter in the environment – have impaired foraging ability. Bees are important pollinators of crops. In developed countries, approximately a third of human food is reliant on pollinating activity. Wild bees are thought to contribute significantly to this quantity. But although many pesticides are known to be toxic to bees, toxicity testing is largely restricted to direct lethal effects on adult honey bees, if tested on bees at all.

The researchers say sub-lethal effects on honey bees could be going unnoticed, and that different bee species could be also be affected. Dr Lora Morandin and colleagues at Canada’s Simon Fraser University tested the effects of different levels of spinosad on bumble bee colony health and foraging ability. Spinosad is a natural pesticide derived from the bacteria Actinomycetes. It is used in over 30 countries including North America, Canada and the UK to combat common crop pests such as caterpillars and thrips.

Bee colonies were fed the pesticide in a manner that mimicked contact in an agricultural setting. Adult bees and developing larva were exposed to spinosad in pollen. The bees’ foraging ability on an array of ‘complex’ artificial flowers made of centrifuge tubes was then evaluated. High levels of spinosad residues (about 10 times what bees should experience in the environment) caused rapid colony death. Colonies exposed to more realistic levels of spinosad in pollen did not show any lethal effects and only minimal immediate colony health effects.

However, bees that were fed realistic levels of spinosad during larval development were slower foragers. They took longer to access complex flowers, resulting in longer handling times and lower foraging rates. The bees also displayed “trembling”, which impaired their ability to land on the flowers and enter the flower tubes.

This impaired foraging ability in bumble bees could result in weaker colonies and lower pollination of crop plants, according to Dr Morandin. “Adult bees that have been exposed to a pesticide during larval development may display symptoms of poisoning that are not detected with current tests required by regulatory agencies,” she says. “In order to ensure sustainable food production, agricultural pesticides need to be safe for wild pollinators.”

The authors conclude that testing of new pesticides should include examination of lethal and sub-lethal effects on wild bees. “Testing new pesticides on some species of wild bees will aid in developing pesticides and use recommendations that minimize impact on wild bees, leading to healthier populations of bees and potentially better crop yields,” says Morandin.

Jacqueline Ali | alfa
Further information:

More articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science:

nachricht Forest Management Yields Higher Productivity through Biodiversity
14.10.2016 | Technische Universität München

nachricht Farming with forests
23.09.2016 | University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES)

All articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Innovative technique for shaping light could solve bandwidth crunch

20.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

Finding the lightest superdeformed triaxial atomic nucleus

20.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

NASA's MAVEN mission observes ups and downs of water escape from Mars

20.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

More VideoLinks >>>