Pesticides bugger Buzzing Bees

Just released experiments have linked bee health to pesticide use. Researchers from University of Stirling, Scotland have found bumble bees that were exposed to the Neonicotinoid pesticides had their buzz frequency effected. This resulted in less pollen collected. The experiment found bees collected 47% to 56% less pollen compared to the control group. The world first study used microphones to monitor the vibrations of bumble bees visiting ‘buzz pollinated’ flowers.
The bees were also less efficient at pollinating the plant. The change in vibration is attributed to stunted learning behaviour when compare to the control group that were not exposed to the pesticides.
Dr Penelope Whitehorn, the University of Stirling Research Fellow who led the research, said: “Our result is the first to demonstrate quantitative changes in the type of buzzes produced by bees exposed to field-realistic levels of neonicotinoid.”

The research paper, ‘Neonicotinoid pesticide limits improvement in buzz pollination by bumblebees’ is published in Scientific Reports.

Dr Vallejo-Marin said: “Our findings have implications for the effects of pesticides on bee populations as well as the pollination services they provide. They also suggest that pesticide exposure may impair bees’ ability to perform complex behaviours, such as buzz pollination.

“The next step in this research would be to establish the mechanism by which the pesticide is affecting the bees. We think that pesticides may be affecting the memory and cognitive ability of bumblebees, which may be very important when conducting complex behaviours.”