(AP) — A common type of pesticide is dramatically harming wild bees,
according to a new in-the-field study that outside experts say may help
shift the way the U.S. government looks at a controversial class of
in the study published by the journal Nature on Wednesday, honeybees —
which get trucked from place to place to pollinate major crops like
almonds— didn't show the significant ill effects that wild cousins like
bumblebees did. This is a finding some experts found surprising. A
second study published in the same journal showed that in lab tests bees
are not repelled by the pesticides and in fact may even prefer
pesticide coated crops, making the problem worse.
of all kinds — crucial to pollinating plants, including major
agricultural crops — have been in decline for several reasons. Pesticide
problems are just one of many problems facing pollinators; this is
separate from colony collapse disorder, which devastated honeybee
populations in recent years but is now abating, experts said.
to neonicotinoid insecticides reduced the density of wild bees,
resulted in less reproduction, and colonies that didn't grow when
compared to bees not exposed to the pesticide, the study found.
in Sweden were able to conduct a study that was in the wild, but still
had the in-the-lab qualities of having control groups that researchers
covet. They used 16 patches of landscape, eight where canola seeds were
coated with the pesticide and eight where they weren't, and compared the
When the first results came in, "I was quite, 'Oh my God,'" said study lead author Maj Rundlof of Lund University. She said the reduction in bee health was "much more dramatic than I ever expected."