Quantcast
Animals
Low doses of most pesticides impair bees' learning and memory. Richard / Flickr / CC BY-ND 2.0

Low Doses of Pesticides Make It Harder for Bees to Find Flowers

A review of a decade of research of the impact of pesticides on bees found that even low doses commonly used in agriculture hurt the bees' learning and memory, a Royal Holloway, University of London press release reported.

The study, published Tuesday in the Journal of Applied Ecology, found the bees' ability to remember floral scents was harmed even by pesticides not covered by Europe's recent ban on neonicotinoids.


"Importantly, as the near-total European ban on neonicotinoid insecticides is set to be implemented in December this year, our results showed that non-neonicotinoid insecticides also have a robust significant negative impact on bee learning and memory," study author and Royal Holloway Ph.D. student Harry Siviter said in the press release.

This has major implications for those hoping to craft bee-friendly agricultural policy.

Ohio State University entomologist Reed Johnson, who was not involved in the study, told Popular Science that the question for bee advocates is, "Can pesticides ever be used safely around bees?"

This study "suggests that the answer is 'no,'" he wrote in an email.

To reach this conclusion, Siviter and three other researchers from Royal Holloway looked at data from more than 100 experiments conducted as part of 23 studies, according to Popular Science.

The studies used a strategy called the "proboscis extension assay" to test bee learning. When a bee approaches nectar, it starts to stick out its tongue. The studies exposed bees to pesticides and then looked to see how long it took bees to stick out their tongues when prompted to forage, if they stuck them out at all.

The conclusion that pesticides impact bee learning and memory has important consequences for bee survival, because worker bees need to remember foraging routes, which types of flowers to visit and which individual flowers they have already drained.

"Bees have a very difficult job," Siviter told Popular Science.

The findings also have important implications for less-studied wild bees who do not live in colonies.

"[I]f their learning or memory are affected, there are no other bees to help out or pick up the slack," University of Guelph scientist Elizabeth Bates, who was not involved with the research, told Popular Science.

Siviter hoped the paper would help politicians craft even more robust plans to protect bees as they build on the neonicotinoid ban.

"Our findings therefore highlight the need for policy makers and regulators to increasingly consider the sub-lethal impacts of insecticides on important pollinators such as bees," he said in the press release.

Show Comments ()

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Sponsored
Popular
Thomas Barwick / DigitalVision / Getty Images

10 Tips for Hosting a Wonderful and Waste-Free Holiday

By Clara Chaisson

For many, the holiday season is a time of plenty. But with all the feasting, the decorations and the gift swapping, it can be easy to go overboard. And for hosts, especially, there's a lot of pressure to make sure guests feel adequately stuffed and the house looks sufficiently bedecked.

Keep reading... Show less
Energy
Taylor Energy spill seen from space in 2017. SkyTruth

Clean Up 14-Year Oil Spill or Face $40K Daily Fine, Feds Tell Taylor Energy

The U.S. Coast Guard has ordered Taylor Energy Co. to clean and contain a 14-year chronic oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico or face a fine of $40,000 a day.

Environmentalists had warned about the unrelenting leak for years after the Gulf Restoration Network and the watchdog group SkyTruth discovered oil slicks via satellite imagery while investigating the BP Deepwater Horizon spill in 2010.

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
Amitabh Bachchan TeachAids / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

Indian Cinema Legend Clears Debts of 1,398 Farmers

Bollywood icon Amitabh Bachchan said he has "taken care" of 1,398 farmers by wiping out more than $560,000 (40m rupees) of their debt, BBC News reported.

"Gratitude leans across to the desire of removing some of the burdens that farmers continue to suffer from ... and the inner peace it generates when the desired is completed," the 76-year-old Indian film legend wrote in a blog post on Tuesday.

Keep reading... Show less
Animals
A Chinese sturgeon, one of a handful on display, is seen at the Chinese Sturgeon Aquarium in Hong Kong. Shankar S. / Flickr

After 140 Million Years, Chinese Sturgeons May Soon Be Extinct

By Jason Bittel

More than 16 feet long and weighing up to 1,100 pounds, Chinese sturgeons are among the world's largest freshwater fish. They're big and they're ancient. According to fossil records, they've been swimming China's Yangtze, Qiantang, Minjiang and Pearl Rivers since the time of the dinosaurs.

And now they're on the brink of oblivion, having disappeared from all of their former range except for small portions of the Yangtze.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Health
Dewayne Johnson, the first man to bring Monsanto to trial over Roundup and win, now faces an appeal. JOSH EDELSON / AFP / Getty Images

A Roundup Trial Roundup

Tuesday was a big news day for the growing legal movement to hold Monsanto accountable for selling a widely-used weed killer that plaintiffs say gave them or their loved ones cancer.

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
"Nature's heterogeneity and biodiversity are at the epicenter of my thankfulness and happiness. Here, deep within a saline wetland, morning light shines through the dew covered understory revealing an orb-weaver's web." Dakota Altman

'Everything Is Interconnected': Photo of Radiant Spider Web Wins EcoWatch Contest

EcoWatch is excited to announced the winner of our first-ever Gratitude Photo Contest. Participants sent us their best shots of what in nature they were most thankful for this Thanksgiving.

Our three amazing judges—Greenpoint Innovations founder Stephen Donofrio, marine scientist Gaelin Rosenwaks and documentary photographer Marc Bryan-Brown—picked their favorites from more than 70 photo entries of breathtaking landscapes, incredible wildlife and majestic waterways.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Food
Health agencies say avoid romaine lettuce as they investigate an E. coli outbreak. Agricultural Resources Service / USDA

E. Coli Outbreak Linked to Romaine Lettuce

If you're hosting Thanksgiving tomorrow, be sure to leave romaine lettuce off the menu! The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are warning everyone to avoid the classic salad green until investigators can pinpoint the exact source of an E. coli outbreak that has sickened 32 people in 11 states.

The FDA advised Americans to stop eating romaine and to toss any that's left in the fridge. Restaurants and retailers should also stop serving it until more is known.

Keep reading... Show less
Climate
Map of damage to the town of Paradise from the Camp Fire, the deadliest wildfire in California history. NASA / JPL-Caltech

Heavy Rain Could Trigger Mudslides in Fire-Weary California

Northern California, which is already reeling from the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in state history, is now bracing for heavy rainfall this week.

The forecasted rain could bring much-needed relief for the firefighters battling the Camp Fire in Butte County. However, it could also bring new hazards due to possible ash, mud and debris flows triggered by the rain.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!