Neonicotinoid pesticides are shown to poison bees. While this study was concerned with bumblebees it is likely that the findings are also relevant to honeybees and similar insects.
The point about pesticides is that they are poisons. Neonicotinoid pesticides are systemic pesticides that affect the whole plant including nectar and pollen.
Use of a specific group of insecticides is having a serious impact on bumblebee populations, according to a team of Scottish scientists.
The Stirling University researchers found exposure even to low levels of neonicotinoid pesticides had a serious impact on the health of bumblebees.
Bee populations have fallen sharply, and scientists say urgent action is needed to reverse the decline.
Of particular concern is an 85% drop in the number of queens.
That means 85% fewer nests in the following year.
The research found bumblebee colony growth slowed after exposure to the chemicals.
This may partly be to blame for colony collapse disorder, a mysterious phenomenon which has hit large numbers of hives in Europe and North America in recent years.
Professor Dave Goulson, who led the Stirling research, said: “Some bumblebee species have declined hugely. For example in North America, several bumblebee species which used to be common have more or less disappeared from the entire continent. In the UK, three species have gone extinct.
“Bumblebees pollinate many of our crops and wild flowers. The use of neonicotinoid pesticides on flowering crops clearly poses a threat to their health, and urgently needs to be re-evaluated.”