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article imageBees are drawn to pesticides, triggering risk of death

By Tim Sandle     May 2, 2015 in Environment
A study shows bees prefer food laced with pesticides. Further research adds to the evidence that such chemicals are harmful to some pollinators.
The causes of the decline in bee populations are multiple. Reasons include loss of habitat from intensive farming, pesticide use, urban development and climate change. Of these, the indiscriminate and uncontrolled use of pesticides is a major factor and the effects of pesticides on pollinators is generally recognized by most scientists (if not all governments or farmers.)
In a worrying development with the pesticide issue, a paper published in the journal Nature shows honeybees and bumblebees actually prefer syrup containing pesticides over plain syrup. The research is titled "Bees prefer foods containing neonicotinoid pesticides."
The study focuses on neonicotinoids, which are commonly used insecticides for crops. The authors indicate that it is no longer credible to argue that agricultural use of neonicotinoids does not harm wild bees.
Commenting on the new findings, University of Guelph’s Nigel Raine told science site The Salt: "I think it’s a surprising result because the data suggest that they can’t taste the [pesticides], but they are still preferring them." This comment suggests that there is an attraction, although the full extent of this attraction is unknown.
In related news, some European governments have claimed that neonicotinoid pesticides are not harming bees or other wildlife. This has been challenged by Europe's 29 academies of sciences who are arguing just the opposite.
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