The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
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.
"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.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Oil rigs around the world keep pulling crude oil out of the ground, but the global pandemic has sent shockwaves into the market. The supply is up, but demand has plummeted now that industry has ground to a halt, highways are empty, and airplanes are parked in hangars.
Under an agreement negotiated by community groups — represented by NRDC and the Pennsylvania Utility Law Project — the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority (PWSA) will remove thousands of lead water pipes by 2026 in order to address the chronically high lead levels in the city's drinking water and protect residents' health.
By Dave Cooke
So, they finally went and did it — the Trump administration just finalized a rule to undo requirements on manufacturers to improve fuel economy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from new passenger cars and trucks. Even with the economy at the brink of a recession, they went forward with a policy they know is bad for consumers — their own analysis shows that American drivers are going to spend hundreds of dollars more in fuel as a result of this stupid policy — but they went ahead and did it anyway.
By Richard Connor
A blood test that screens for more than 50 types of cancer could help doctors treat patients at an earlier stage than previously possible, a new study shows. The method was used to screen for more than 50 types of cancer — including particularly deadly variants such as pancreatic, ovarian, bowel and brain.
Preliminary data from the Centers for Disease Control showed a larger number of young people coming down with COVID-19 than first expected, with patients under the age of 45 comprising more than a third of all cases, and one in five of those patients requiring hospitalization. That also tends to be the group most likely to use e-cigarettes.