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A Common Pesticide Decreases Foraging Success and Survival in Honey Bees
Bad News for Bees Neonicotinoid insecticides were introduced in the early 1990s and have become one of the most widely used crop pesticides in the world. These compounds act on the insect central nervous system, and they have been shown to be persistent in the environment and in plant tissues. Recently, there have been controversial connections made between neonicotinoids and pollinator deaths, but the mechanisms underlying these potential deaths have remained unknown. Whitehorn et al. (p. 351 , published online 29 March) exposed developing colonies of bumble bees to low levels of the neonicotinoid imidacloprid and then released them to forage under natural conditions. Treated colonies displayed reduced colony growth and less reproductive success, and they produced significantly fewer queens to found subsequent generations. Henry et al. (p. 348 , published online 29 March) documented the effects of low-dose, nonlethal intoxication of another widely used neonicotinoid, thiamethoxam, on wild foraging honey bees. Radio-frequency identification tags were used to determine navigation success of treated foragers, which suggested that their homing success was much reduced relative to untreated foragers.