Bumblebee queens exposed to neonicotinoid insecticide less likely to lay eggs, lab study finds

Bombus terrestris queen

A group of scientists in the United Kingdom decided to look at how bumblebee queens are affected by some widely used and highly controversial pesticides known as neonicotinoids. What they found isn’t pretty.

The scientists, based at Royal Holloway University of London, set up a laboratory experiment with bumblebee queens. They fed those queens a syrup containing traces of a neonicotinoid pesticide called thiamethoxam, and the amount of the pesticide, they say, was similar to what bees living near fields of neonic-treated canola might be exposed to.

Bumblebee queens exposed to the pesticide were 26 percent less likely to lay eggs, compared to queens that weren’t exposed to the pesticide.

According to [Nigel Raine] and his colleagues, the reduction in reproduction is so large that wild bumblebee populations exposed to these chemicals could enter a spiral of decline and eventually die out.

But he says scientists don’t know how harmful the pesticide exposure is in the wildcompared to other perils the bees face, such as disappearing wildflowers that bees rely on for food.

[Editor’s note: This piece did not include this quote from the published report: “We did not detect impacts of any experimental [neonicotinoid] treatment on the ability of queens to produce adult offspring during the 14-week experimental period.”]

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion and analysis. Read full, original post: Popular Pesticides Keep Bumblebees From Laying Eggs