Crop Biotech Update

Bees Disoriented by Low Dose of Insecticide

April 4, 2012

A study on bees by a multidisciplinary French research team has proven that rampant use of insecticide could be the reason for the decline of bee population. The study published in the journal Science studied the relationship between the ingestion of an insecticide belonging to the neonicotinoid family and the mortality of the bees.

The scientists used RFID microchips attached to the chest of more than 650 bees, which allowed them to monitor entry or exit of the hive through a series of electronic sensors. Half of the bee population was fed with sugar solution containing a very low dose of insecticide (at concentrations similar to what they encounter in the field) and the other half without the insecticide. The bees were let out in the field and their rate of return and mortality were monitored.

Results showed that there was a significant rate of no return to the hive of bees due to disorientation, brought by intoxication at low doses of the insecticide. There was also an increase in daily mortality at 15% bees per day. Thus, exposure of bees to neonicotinoid insecticides even at low levels has the potential to destabilize the normal development and functions in the colony, as well as make the bees vulnerable to stresses and pathogens.

For more on this news, see the article in French at http://www.inra.fr/presse/abeilles_desorientees_par_faible_dose_insecticide