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Commonly used pesticide turns honey bees into 'picky eaters'
Date:5/23/2012

eated bees also danced less."

The two researchers point out that honey bees that prefer only very sweet foods can dramatically reduce the amount of resources brought back to the colony. Further reductions in their food stores can occur when bees no longer communicate to their kin the location of the food source.

"Exposure to amounts of pesticide formerly considered safe may negatively affect the health of honey bee colonies," said Nieh.

To test how the preference of sugary sources changed due to imidacloprid, the scientists individually harnessed the bees so only their heads could move. By stimulating the bees' antennae with sugar water, the researchers were able to determine at what concentrations the sugar water was rewarding enough to feed on. Using an ascending range of sugar water from 0 to 50 percent, the researchers touched the antennae of each bee to see if it extended its mouthparts. Bees that were treated with imidacloprid were less willing to feed on low concentrations of sugar water than those that were not treated.

The biologists also observed how the pesticide affected the bees' communication system. Bees communicate to each other the location of a food source by performing waggle dances. The number of waggle dances performed indicates the attractiveness of the reward and corresponds to the number of nestmates recruited to good food.

"Remarkably, bees that fed on the pesticide reduced the number of their waggle dances between fourfold and tenfold," said Eiri. "And in some cases, the affected bees stopped dancing completely."

The two scientists said their discoveries not only have implications for how pesticides are applied and used in bee-pollinated crops, but provide an additional chemical tool that can be used by other researchers studying the neural control of honey bee behavior. The study was funded by the North American Pollinator Protection Campaign and the National Science Foundation.


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Contact: Kim McDonald
kmcdonald@ucsd.edu
858-534-7572
University of California - San Diego
Source:Eurekalert

Page: 1 2

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