A new study provides the first evidence that a common pesticide is impairing honey bees’ ability to fly, consequently to pollinate. Neonicotinoid, the pesticide in question, is widely used in agricultural crops, fruits, and vegetables. It’s a neurotoxin that can have a long-term negative effect on honey bee colonies. While this pesticide doesn’t kill the bees directly, it condemns the colony to death by altering their flight ability. It impairs foraging and homing, which are vital to normal colony function and ecosystem.
Researchers from the Univesity of San Diego tested bees for months accumulating a large amount of data which leads to the discovery that a typical level of the pesticide, such as the one bees encounter in crop fields, resulted in a significant impairment of bees’ ability to fly.
Doctor Simone Tosi, a co-author of the research, said: “Our results provide the first demonstration that field-realistic exposure to this pesticide alone, in otherwise healthy colonies, can alter the ability of bees to fly, specifically impairing flight distance, duration, and velocity. Honeybee survival depends on its ability to fly because that’s the only way they can collect food. Their flight ability is also crucial to guarantee crop and wild plant pollination.”
Honey bees carry out a vital role in nature by pollinating crops and native plants. The honey bee is a highly social organism, so a disruption in their behaviors can jeopardize the survival of the entire colony. Evidence of the insecticide has been found in the nectar and pollen that honey bees collect.
It is highly concerning, knowing that bees are closely related to human food supply. Most nutritious foods human eat are bee-pollinated.