Are Honeybees Losing Their Way?
A new study shows that long-term exposure to a combination of certain pesticides might impair the bee's ability to carry out its pollen mission.
"Any impairment in their ability to do this could have a strong effect on their survival," said Geraldine Wright, a neuroscientist at Newcastle University in England and co-author of a new study posted online February 7, 2013, in the Journal of Experimental Biology.
Wright's study adds to the growing body of research that shows that the honeybee's ability to thrive is being threatened. Scientists are still researching how pesticides may be contributing to colony collapse disorder (CCD), a rapid die-off seen in millions of honeybees throughout the world since 2006.
"Pesticides are very likely to be involved in CCD and also in the loss of other types of pollinators," Wright said. (See the diversity of pollinating creatures in a photo gallery from National Geographic magazine.)
Bees depend on what's called "scent memory" to find flowers teeming with nectar and pollen. Their ability to rapidly learn, remember, and communicate with each other has made them highly efficient foragers, using the waggle dance to educate others about the site of the food source.
Watch as National Geographic explains the waggle dance.
Their pollination of plants is responsible for the existence of nearly a third of the food we eat and has a similar impact on wildlife food supplies.
Previous studies have shown certain types of pesticides affect a bee's learning and memory.
Sources and more information:
Recent declines in honeybee populations and the impact on food crops should trigger the EPA to immediately suspend the use of neonicotinoid pesticides and to investigate a possible link between the use of these common pesticides and reductions in the honeybee population. Honey bees are responsible for pollination of approximately one third of the...
( via news.nationalgeographic.com )
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