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Neonicotinoid-exposed bees gather less than half as much pollen, leaving hives to die of starvation

Posted: February 3, 2014 |   Comments

( A group of researchers from the UK have recently discovered that bees exposed to certain pesticides gather less than half the pollen they normally do, leading the hive to die of starvation.

The study, "Field realistic doses of pesticide imidacloprid reduce bumblebee pollen foraging efficiency," was led by University of Sussex professor Dave Goulson and published in January in Ecotoxicology.

In this study, scientists tracked bees while they were foraging and measured the amount of pollen they gathered once they returned to the hive. Some of the tracked bees had been exposed to the widely used neonicotinoid imidacloprid.

The researchers found that, while healthy bees brought back pollen 63 percent of the time, neonicotinoid-exposed bees brought back pollen only 40 percent of the time. Furthermore, the hives of intoxicated bees received 57 percent less pollen.

While this study provides another important clue into how pesticides have been contributing the collapse of bee populations in recent years, scientists, especially those who work for imidacloprid manufacturers such as Bayer AG, argue that more extensive field studies should be done to reach more conclusive data. However, field studies would be very difficult to perform, considering the pervasiveness of neonicotinoid pesticides in the environment.

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