Neonicotinoid Pesticide Reduces Bumble Bee Colony Growth and Queen Production

School of Natural Sciences, University of Stirling, Stirling FK9 4LA, UK.
Science (Impact Factor: 33.61). 03/2012; 336(6079):351-2. DOI: 10.1126/science.1215025
Source: PubMed


Growing evidence for declines in bee populations has caused great concern because of the valuable ecosystem services they provide. Neonicotinoid insecticides have been implicated in these declines because they occur at trace levels in the nectar and pollen of crop plants. We exposed colonies of the bumble bee Bombus terrestris in the laboratory to field-realistic levels of the neonicotinoid imidacloprid, then allowed them to develop naturally under field conditions. Treated colonies had a significantly reduced growth rate and suffered an 85% reduction in production of new queens compared with control colonies. Given the scale of use of neonicotinoids, we suggest that they may be having a considerable negative impact on wild bumble bee populations across the developed world.

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    • "The unintended negative effects of neonicotinoids on non-target bumblebees has led to increased focus on delineating the environmental fate of this class of insecticides (Cameron et al., 2011; Cresswell and Thompson, 2012; Henry et al., 2012; Osborne, 2012; Whitehorn et al., 2012).Soil serves as the predominant sink for pesticides, which make their way to soil through deliberate field application, water leaching, or air deposition(Fenoll et al., 2011). Once in soil, pesticides and their metabolites are dissipated to form extractable residues(ER),and bound residues(or non-extractable residues, BR), or are mineralized (converted to 14 CO 2 ) (Craven and Hoy, 2005). "
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    • "Neonicotinoids, a relatively new class of insecticides in use since 1991 (Elbert et al., 2008) have been under scrutiny in recent years due to research indicating negative impacts on non-target species, both directly (bees: e.g. Whitehorn et al., 2012; aquatic invertebrates: Beketov and Liess, 2008) and indirectly (insectfeeding birds: Hallmann et al., 2014). Presently, there is a moratorium on neonicotinoid use as seed treatments, or as granules, on certain " bee attractive crops " such as maize, sunflower and oilseed rape in the European Union (EU) due to " high acute risks " to bees (Europa, 2013). "
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    • "Apart from these lethal effects, neonicotinoids in general and especially the widely applied imidacloprid , are considered to be responsible for population decreases of pollinator insects, e.g. bumble bees, due to reduction of fecundity and effects on the feeding behaviour (Laycock et al., 2012; Whitehorn et al., 2012). A concentration–response relationship of the insecticide imidacloprid was determined in L 1 A. albopictus larvae obtained from all four treatments of F 1 and F 2 . "
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