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Bumblebees, Too, Face Threat from Toxic Pesticides: Study

Findings see damaged colonies much like that observed in their honeybee cousins

Common Dreams staff

A bumblebee collecting pollen. (Photograph: Alamy)

A new study by British scientists released Sunday shows that exposure to a combination of common pesticides kills bumblebees at alarming rates and matches similar findings from research with their smaller cousin, the honeybee.

As environment editor at the Independent Michael McCarthy describes, "The findings, which come from a Government-funded study, represent the fifth major piece of research to appear this year linking the worldwide and worrying declines of bees to pesticides, and in particular to the use of the relatively new nerve-agent pesticides, the neonicotinoids."

"This new study is considered particularly important," he reports,
because bees forage widely so are likely to encounter more than one type of pesticide."

The study found that chronic exposure to the chemicals "increases the propensity of colonies to fail," the authors of the study wrote in the journal Nature. The pesticides containing neonicotinoid and pyrethroid, they found, "impair natural foraging behavior and increases worker mortality, leading to significant reductions in brood development and colony success," they said.

Reporting by The Guardian notes that a 2011 UN report "estimated that bees and other pollinators such as butterflies, beetles or birds do work worth €153bn ($200bn) a year to the human economy and are in decline in many nations."

'The Buzz about Pesticides,' a video by Nature:

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