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Nature & Environment

Pesticides are causing bees to shrink

By T.K. Randall
January 20, 2014 · Comment icon 17 comments



World bee populations have been in decline for years. Image Credit: CC BY-SA 2.0 Mark Winterbourne
Experts believe that honeybees exposed to common pesticides are becoming smaller and weaker.
Scientists have long speculated that the increase in use of pesticides in farming could be a contributing factor in colony collapse disorder, but now a team of researchers in the UK has conducted laboratory testing that appears to confirm that pesticides are having a negative effect.

The study has revealed that a common type of pesticide used on flowering plants is capable of stunting the growth of worker bees, making them smaller and less capable.
"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."

The worldwide decline in bee populations has been of grave concern in recent years as bee pollination is an essential component in our own food chain. Scientists are now looking towards alternative methods of pest control in an effort to put a stop to the decline before it is too late.

Source: The Guardian | Comments (17)


Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #8 Posted by Sundew 9 years ago
It's hard to be fond of insects that sting, but the fact is honeybees and other bee species put much of the food on our tables as far as plants go. Other than grains (corn, wheat, oats, etcetera) which are wind pollinated, most food crops rely on insect pollination, the largest part being done by bees. If the bees were to disappear we would be forced to hand pollinate our crops or do without. There are already places in China where people are hand pollinating fruit trees because the bees have been eradicated. This will drive of the cost of things like apples, citrus many vegetables and any oth... [More]
Comment icon #9 Posted by pallidin 9 years ago
Honeybee's don't generally sting, as they will die from doing so(it's part of their abdomen) They do only on critical threat. Wasps and other such nasties can sting multiple times and not die doing so.
Comment icon #10 Posted by bulveye 9 years ago
They should test these chemicals for 5-10 years before being allowed to use them. In which case I would think about 95% would never get released and the cost would be too prohibitive to do anything except focus on safe options. So then people would use common sense and proper farming techniques like our ancestors did i.e, 'bio-dynamics' and creating a much wider range of one type of crops as well as CROP ROTATION!!!! When will the lazy, greedy subsidized farmers wake up and realize THEY are to blame.
Comment icon #11 Posted by Sir Smoke aLot 9 years ago
Bees are responsible for moving plants seeds, pollen. They play a big role in ecological system. Not sure what percentage but if bees number will largely decrease we will see big problems. Damn chemicals.
Comment icon #12 Posted by bmk1245 9 years ago
[...] So then people would use common sense and proper farming techniques like our ancestors did i.e, 'bio-dynamics' and creating a much wider range of one type of crops as well as CROP ROTATION!!!![...] If farmer specializes in growing potatoes (or any other "single" stuff), what would you suggest to rotate? [...] When will the lazy, greedy subsidized farmers wake up and realize THEY are to blame. Don't accuse farmers for being "lazy", because you are on exactly the same page of "laziness" with "lazy" farmers. Let me ask you: do you carry your clothes to the nearest water pool (river, lake) a... [More]
Comment icon #13 Posted by Rafterman 9 years ago
They should test these chemicals for 5-10 years before being allowed to use them. In which case I would think about 95% would never get released and the cost would be too prohibitive to do anything except focus on safe options. So then people would use common sense and proper farming techniques like our ancestors did i.e, 'bio-dynamics' and creating a much wider range of one type of crops as well as CROP ROTATION!!!! When will the lazy, greedy subsidized farmers wake up and realize THEY are to blame. So your solution would be to turn back agricultural innovation 100 years? You know, back to wh... [More]
Comment icon #14 Posted by rashore 9 years ago
I think the problem with the bees is that there are multiple things causing problems for them, and we keep trying to pin it to just a thing or two. A magic bullet of problem. I think it's the dangerous "cides" we are using, the selective diet the bees are offered, the habit of regularly moving hives from farm to farm, the water resources that are often not good for the bees, or habit of using almost exclusively foreign nucs with minimal introduction of native nucs, general weakness allowing greater impact of disease and attacking mites/other critters. Probably a few other things too I'm not th... [More]
Comment icon #15 Posted by Dark_Grey 9 years ago
So your solution would be to turn back agricultural innovation 100 years? You know, back to when crops failed and entire countries starved. How's that a solution? How about we continue to develop safe pesticides and fungicides? Seems like a much better solution to me. Are you volunteering to do the pollinating yourself? We desperately need bees but some evil, GM food mult-national corporations don't exactly make that a priority. Living your life from one quarterly report to the next is very shortsighted. Until there's some monetary incentive, we can't expect Monsanto things to change.
Comment icon #16 Posted by MyAccount 9 years ago
Experts believe that honeybees exposed to common pesticides are becoming smaller and weaker. Read More: http://www.unexplain...-bees-to-shrink When I first read this I thought the shrinkage they were talking about was in numbers, but after reading the story I understand it is both in numbers and in individual sizes. I was otherwise hoping to say, "Yeah, I know a bee that dropped two dress sizes." but since the shrinkage refers to both, the comment is mute! Oh well,...
Comment icon #17 Posted by The New Richard Nixon 9 years ago
I have seen smaller bees but also i have seen big bees the size of a 50p coin


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