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Pesticides Are Stunting the Growth of Bumblebees

  • Pesticides sprayed by farmers are causing bumblebees to be smaller in size.
  • Scientists believe that the prohibited use of neonicotinoid pesticides, is leading to the more common use of pyrethroid and other pesticides, which stunt the growth of bees.

Bumblebees Photo Courtesy: Wikipedia

Recent research from the Royal Holloway University in London uncovered that household pesticides are stunting the growth of bumblebees. The workers bees are being hatched at a smaller size, because of exposure to pesticides sprayed on crops to prevent insect damage.

The scientists studied a colony of bees over a four-month period tracking their size and growth to determine how the pesticides effected their growth and lifecycle. The researchers looked at the sizes of the queen bees and worker bees by weighing the bumblebees on micro-scales. The finding from the scientists research will be presented at the Bee Health Conference in London this week.

We already know that larger bumblebees are more effective at foraging,” said researcher Gemma Baron. “Our result, revealing that this pesticide causes bees to hatch out at a smaller size, is of concern as the size of workers produced in the field is likely to be a key component of colony success, with smaller bees being less efficient at collecting nectar and pollen from flowers.”

Bumblebees play key role in the pollination process and scientists have spent a great deal of time understanding how the pyrethroid pesticide is negatively effecting the growth of the bumblebees. The pyrethroid pesticide is used by farmers to spray on their crops. Europe has temporary prohibition on neonicotinoid pesticides, which is leading to the increased use of pyrethroid and other insect pesticides.

Our work provides a significant step forward in understanding the detrimental impact of pesticides other than neonicotinoids on wild bees,” said Dr Nigel Raine. “Further studies using colonies placed in the field are essential to understand the full impacts, and conducting such studies needs to be a priority for scientists and governments.”

“Pesticides Are Stunting the Growth of Bumblebees” 


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