Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Yellow peril?

Do you care about bees? Of course you do, so you'll probably have noticed that bees - and other pollinating insects - are  scarcer now than they were years ago.
And this could be one reason why. It looks like tiny amounts of pesticide in pollen grains collected by hard-working bumblebees could be poisoning their colonies.
A study at the University of Stirling has found that when bumblebee nests and their queens were exposed to one of a group of pesticides called the neonicotinoids they grew more slowly and colonies raise fewer queen bees. Neonicotinoids are put onto seeds and then spread through a growing plant, which means that some of the chemical is found in pollen and nectar; they are often used on oilseed rape crops.
The levels of the chemical the bees were exposed to was relatively low - just what you'd commonly find in the UK countryside. The researchers say that foraging bees can gather poisoned pollen from as far away as a mile from their nest and bring it back to their nest, where it is fed to grubs that should go on to become queens.
Queen bees establish new colonies in spring, so fewer of them has a big impact on bumblebee populations. Other researchers have highlighted the impact of neonicotinoids on bees and other pollinators and campaigners are calling on the government to ban their us.


  1. It's worrying this kind of thing - not just that it's happening but that there is already a long list of things we know are bad for the planet but which we carry on with regardless. I shall try not to be pessimistic by admiring the picture of the pollinated bee.

  2. Yes, it's a great picture isn't it - pollination in action.