Home Environmental education Study shows pesticides can impact generations of bees. Here is what you can do

Study shows pesticides can impact generations of bees. Here is what you can do


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A study recently published by researchers at the University of California, Davis found that pesticides can have lasting effects on the health of bees, reducing their reproduction rate.

According to the results published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, it may take several generations of bees to recover from a single pesticide application.

Here’s a look at the study and what you can do to save the bees.

What is the study and its conclusions?

The study was conducted by exposing blue bees in orchards to imidacloprid, a common insect control chemical, in the amount recommended on the label. The bees received an application for two years, which is a standard exposure level, according to the UC Davis article.

“Repeated exposure over two years had an additive negative effect on individual reproduction, which led to a truly dramatic reduction in population growth,” said Clara Stuligross, lead author of the study.

The researchers concluded that bees that came into contact with insecticides in the form of larvae and adults produced 44% less brood. And bees that were exposed to the chemical two years in a row had a reduced population growth rate of 72%, compared to bees that had no level of exposure.

The study only looked at one pesticide

The research was based on the use of imidacloprid, an insecticide that mimics nicotine, which is toxic to insects. This chemical is the most widely used for insect control.

Stuligross, who is a UC Davis doctoral candidate in ecology, said that since there is a wide variety of insecticides on the market, you cannot extrapolate the results of the study. But she believes that the effects of imidacloprid on bees will be reflected in similar types of pesticides.

“It also helps us understand, in general, the effects of multiple exposures to pesticides,” she said.

The importance of bees

According to Planet Bee Foundation, a San Francisco-based nonprofit environmental education organization, bees are the most efficient pollinators in the world. As pollinators, these buzzing insects help plants survive, which in turn secures our food, wildlife, and the environment.

“They are really important to our ecosystem,” Stuligross said. “And so understanding how this exposure to pesticides affects bees over time is important to understanding how to actually support them and how to continue to support our healthy and sustainable food systems.”

What you can do

Stuligross said the most important thing people can do is reduce their use of pesticides around bees as much as possible.

This means not using these chemicals when crops and flowers are blooming, as bees are generally attracted to plants that bloom with nectar and pollen.

If you need to spray an insecticide on a crop, Stuligross said you should reduce any drift of the chemical to nearby flowering plants.

Pesticide reduces fertility of blue bees in orchards

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Quote: Study shows pesticides can impact generations of bees. Here’s What You Can Do (2021, December 1), retrieved December 1, 2021 from https://phys.org/news/2021-12-pesticide-impact-bees.html

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