Mar. 22, 2016
Researchers have said that even low exposure level of neonicotinoid insecticide can alter the way bees learn and remember. Exposure to pesticides can alter bees' flower choices, learning abilities and ability to extract nectar and pollen. The research team has urged government agencies, pesticide companies and farming communities to deal with pesticide use as a decline in pollination will eventually cause loss to farm production.
Study's lead researcher Dara Stanley, of Royal Holloway University of London, said that bumblebees that were exposed to low levels of the insecticide have collected more pollen but they took longer to do so than unexpectedly bees to do so.
"We found that chronic exposure to field-realistic levels of thiamethoxam altered the interactions between bumblebees and morphologically complex wildflowers", affirmed the researchers.
Bumblebees that were exposed to pesticide initially foraged faster and collected more pollen, said the researchers, who affirmed that unexposed bees might be taking more time and energy in learning. But later, the unexposed bees were quicker in learning how to manipulate flower in fewer visits than their exposed counterparts.
The researchers said that their findings have important message for society and the economy as pollinating insects are important to support agriculture and wild plant biodiversity. Study's senior author Nigel Raine, environmental sciences professor of the University of Guelph, said that the bees depend on learning to locate flowers, try to find out their profitability and also work out how best to extract nectar and pollen.
If bees are exposed to low levels of pesticide and that affect their ability then bees may struggle to collect food and also impair the essential pollination service they provide to crops as well as wild plants.
Researchers said that the latest findings are of concern as bees and other insects are vital part of global food security and biodiversity. The researchers said that the current levels of pesticide exposure could severely affect how bees interact with wild plants that impair the pollinating service that provide health ecosystem function.