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Stress Causes Bee Colonies To Fail

Update Date: Oct 08, 2013 09:43 AM EDT

When bees are exposed to low levels of a particular pesticides, their behavior changes and they stop working properly for their colonies, a new study finds. The pesticide is identified as “neonicotinoid" pesticides and it does not directly kill bees.

Scientists from Royal Holloway University are interesting showed that exposure to pesticides at levels bees encounter in the fields can make entire colonies fail. Although the pesticide has subtle impact on individual bees.

“One in three mouthfuls of our food depend on bee pollination,” said lead author, Dr John Bryden from the School of Biological Sciences at Royal Holloway in a press release. “By understanding the complex way in which colonies fail and die, we’ve made a crucial step in being able to link bee declines to pesticides and other factors, such as habitat loss and disease which can all contribute to colony failure.”

“Exposing bees to pesticides is a bit like adding more and more weight on someone’s shoulders. A person can keep walking normally under a bit of weight, but when it gets too much – they collapse. Similarly, bee colonies can keep growing when bees aren’t too stressed, but if stress levels get too high the colony will eventually fail,” Dr Bryden later added.

“Our research provides important insights to the biology of pollinators,” said co-author Professor Vincent Jansen. “It is intriguing that the way in which bees work together is the key to their success, but could also contribute to their decline and colony failure.”

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