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Bees exposed to a neonicotinoid pesticide fly only a third of the distance that unexposed bees are able to achieve.
Flight behaviour is crucial for determining how bees forage, so reduced flight performance from pesticide exposure could lead to colonies going hungry and pollination services being impacted.
Bees - Pollinators - Crops - Wildflowers - Countryside
Foraging bees are essential pollinators for the crops we eat and the wildflowers in our countryside, gardens and parks. Any factor compromising bee flight performance could therefore impact this pollination service.
A study by Imperial College London researchers, published today in the journal Ecology and Evolution, reveals how exposure to a common class of neurotoxic pesticide, a neonicotinoid, reduces individual flight endurance (distance and duration) in bumblebees.
Study - Bees - Imidacloprid - Doses - Fields
The study shows that bees exposed to the neonicotinoid imidacloprid in doses they would encounter in fields fly significantly shorter distances and for less time than bees not exposed, which could reduce the area in which colonies can forage for food by up to 80 percent.
Intriguingly, exposed bees seemed to enter a hyperactive-like state in which they initially flew faster than unexposed bees and therefore may have 'worn themselves out'.
First - Author - Study - Daniel - Kenna
First author of the study Daniel Kenna, from the Department of Life Sciences at Imperial, said: "Neonicotinoids are similar to nicotine in the way they stimulate neurons, and so a 'rush' or hyperactive burst of activity does make sense.
However, our results suggest there may be a cost to this initial rapid flight, potentially through increased energy expenditure or a lack of motivation, in the form of reduced flight endurance.
Findings - Parallel - Story - 'Tortoise
"Our findings take on an interesting parallel to the story of the 'Tortoise and...
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