Neonicotinoid pesticide affects foraging and social interaction in bumblebees

Read the full story at Phys.org.

In a plastic, lasercut box blacked out with paint and lit with red light, worker bumblebees (Bombus impatiens) go about their daily activities: interacting with fellow adults, extracting food from honey pots, feeding larvae, and occasionally venturing out to forage for nectar. While this nest is far from normal, the bees that live here have adapted to their new space remarkably well. Still, all is not well within the nest, and not because of its strange form. Some bees have abandoned their daily patterns and are spending more time alone, on the periphery. Others are spending less time caring for the utterly dependent larvae that will become the next generation of bumblebees.

Within the nest, the chaotic center of bumblebee life, social behavior and interactions are crucial for bee population health and the production of young. When social behavior and the care of young changes, population numbers become more susceptible to decline. James Crall, a postdoc with the Planetary Health Alliance at Harvard University, graduate student Callin Switzer and colleagues have linked these changes in social behavior with sublethal exposure to the neonicotinoid pesticide, imidacloprid.

Full research article: Callin M. Switzer et al. The neonicotinoid pesticide, imidacloprid, affects Bombus impatiens (bumblebee) sonication behavior when consumed at doses below the LD50, Ecotoxicology (2016). DOI: 10.1007/s10646-016-1669-z

Author: Laura B.

I'm the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center's Sustainability Information Curator, which is a fancy way of saying embedded librarian. I'm also Executive Director of the Great Lakes Regional Pollution Prevention Roundtable. When not writing for Environmental News Bits, I'm an avid reader. Visit Laura's Reads to see what I'm currently reading.

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