While the cause of the decline has not been clearly identified, many scientists believe exposure to is partly to blame.

have been under scrutiny of late due to the discovery that their numbers are declining, partly due to colony collapse. “It is important to remember that all other insect pollinators do not possess the enormous buffering capacity of honeybees and are therefore more acutely at risk to the impact of pesticides”, he said. The researchers monitored the bees as they visited apple blossoms and took samples of pollen loads the bumblebees carried back with them -they also monitored the progress of the apples that grew on the trees pollinated only by the bumblebees used in the study. To that end, several studies have been conducted to look at what happens to bees when they are exposed to non-lethal amounts of different pesticides. The third group was not exposed to any pesticides. Trees pollinated by bumblebees exposed to pesticides produced apples with 36% fewer seeds, which could have a significant influence on fruit quality. Reducing pesticide use on plants or creating areas with lower pesticide levels can also help.

“Here we provide the missing link, showing that individual honeybees near thiamethoxam-treated fields do indeed disappear at a faster rate, but the impact of this is buffered by the colonies’ demographic regulation response”.

The change in population could explain why laboratory evidence of the pesticides harming bees had not been supported in the field. And Dr Alan Dewar of Dewar Crop Protection Ltd, added: “The conclusions from this work, which are very simple in contrast to the study itself, show that bees, or at least , can compensate for adverse effects of pesticides in their environment”. Neonicotinoid pesticide exposure impairs crop services provided by bumblebees, Nature (2015).

The results are the first to show the ability to plants. have found that the controversial pesticides can affect bees, but haven’t measured how that then translates to their pollination services.

Co-author Dr. Mike Garratt, from the University of Reading, said: “We found that bees exposed to pesticides returned from apple flowers with less pollen than bees in the control group”. However, this means they produce fewer breeding males which could pose a long-term risk to colonies.

And now, publishing in the British Royal Society journal Proceedings B a team of French researchers is now saying their research is the “missing link” connecting their deaths and pesticides.


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