Bumblebee exposure to neonic pesticides can lead to poorer crops
Key Excerpts from Article on Website of CBC (Canada's public broadcasting system)
Posted: November 23rd, 2015
Bumblebees exposed to common neonicotinoid pesticides may do a poorer job of pollinating crops such as apples, leading to poorer-quality fruit, a new Canadian-led study suggests. When apple trees were pollinated by bees exposed to those pesticides, commonly called neonics, the trees produced about a third fewer seeds. The number of seeds is generally linked to fruit quality in apples. "Bumblebees are essential pollinators of many important crops other than apples, including field beans, berries, tomatoes and oilseed rape," the researchers wrote in a paper published today in the journal Nature. "If exposure to pesticides alters pollination services to apple crops, it is likely that these other bee-pollinated crops would also be affected. Most importantly, the majority of wild plant species benefit from insect pollination services." The information suggests that using neonics has costs to both production of other crops and wild ecosystems that may not have previously been considered when weighing the costs against the benefits of using the pesticides. Many studies have shown that exposure to neonics has a negative impact on the behavior and reproduction of bees. That has prompted restrictions on neonics in some places, such as Europe and Ontario. The study ... only looks at the effects on bumblebees. Neonics are also known to have more severe effects on many wild bees. For the production of crops where wild bees are important ... the effects may be more severe than seen in the results of this study.
Note: Neonicotinoid pesticides have been implicated in colony collapse disorder. Bayer, a major manufacturer of this pesticide, attempted to cover up the connection between its products and the massive die off of bees.