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The more pesticides the bees eat, the more they like them



Credit: Lilla Frerichs / public domain

Bumblebees get a taste for pesticide foods when they are more exposed to them, a behavior that shows potential addictive symptoms.

This study of bumblebee behavior suggests that the risk of pesticide-contaminated foods entering bee colonies may be higher than previously thought, which may affect the reproductive success of the colonies.

The Proceedings of the Royal Society B a team from Imperial College London and Queen Mary University of London (QMUL), has shown that bumblebee colonies multiply over time from pesticide-bound ones Nourish food (sugar solution).

The researchers tested the controversial class of pesticides for the "neonicotinoids" that are currently one of the most widely used pesticide classes in the world, despite the almost total ban in the EU. The effects of neonicotinoids on bees are hotly debated, and the ban is a decision that has received different views.

The lead researcher Richard Gill of the Department of Life Sciences at Imperial said: "Given a choice, however, naive bees seem to be avoiding neonicotinoid-treated foods. However, as individual bees increasingly experience the treated food, they develop a preference for it.

" Interestingly, aim Neonicotinoids on nerve receptors in insects that resemble receptors targeted by nicotine in mammals. Our findings that bumblebees have a taste for neonicotinoids clog certain symptoms of addictive behavior, which is intriguing given the addictive properties of nicotine in humans, although more research is needed to determine this in bees.

The team tracked ten bumblebee colonies For ten days, each colony was given access to their own food arena, where the bees could choose predators that contained or did not contain a neonicotinoid.

They found that the bees did not produce the pesticide Food preferred but fed with time Pesticides cut more food and less visited pesticide-free food, and they still preferred pesticide-soaked food, even though their diets had changed, suggesting that they could detect the pesticide in the diet

Lead author Dr Andres Arce, from the Department of Life Sciences at Imperial, said: "Many studies on neonicotinoids feed bees exclusively on pesticide-laden foods, but in actual fact, wild bees have a choice of where to feed. We wanted to know if the bees could recognize the pesticides and eventually learn to avoid them by feeding on the uncontaminated food.

"While it seemed at first that the bees had avoided the pesticide diet, we found that over time, the bumblebees have stepped up their visits to pesticide-laden foods, and we need to conduct further studies to understand why they receive this preference. "

Dr. Gill added, "This research extends important previous work by groups at the Newcastle and Dublin universities, adding a time dimension and allowing bees to perform more normal foraging to understand the dynamics of pesticide preference must correctly assess the risks of exposure rather than just the hazard.

"While neonicotinoids are controversial, if the effects of replacing non-target insects are not understood, I think it makes sense that we take advantage of current knowledge and further study Guidance on the responsible use of neonicotinoids, and not necessarily an absolute ban. "


Further research:
New pesticide can damage bees as well as bees to be replaced

Further information:
Fodder bumblebees are given a preference for neonicotinoid-treated food after prolonged exposure, Proceedings of the Royal Society B rspb.royalsocietypublishing.or … .1098 / rspb.2018.0655

Reference to the journal:
Proceedings of the Royal Society B

Provided by:
Imperial College London


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