Ecology And Environment
Bee on flower

Bees cannot Function normally after Exposure to Chemicals

Bee on flower
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"Bees cannot Function normally after Exposure to Chemicals"
Caption: Bee on flower
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Researchers in the United Kingdom say pesticides frequently used by farmers can cause brain damage in bees and disrupt their learning processes, reported BBC News.

The studies, conducted by scientists from the University of Dundee and Newcastle University, linked problems caused by two different types of pesticides called neonicotinoid and coumaphos.  These chemicals are frequently used in agricultural practices.  

While the bees remained alive during their exposure, scientists said they suffered brain damage, according to Science Recorder.

Scientists found through studying the bees in a laboratory that exposure to the pesticides began to interfere with bees' brains. The researchers said they discovered conditions that gave them "epileptic-type" hyperactivity bursts, then the neurons in the brain would shut down.

The University of Dundee researchers also claim the bees began to forget the associations between flower scents and food rewards, causing disruptions in their daily routines.

An earlier study conducted by researchers from Newcastle University suggests the same two chemical pesticides impact the memories of bees; up to 30 percent were impacted.

The impact of the bees' exposure to the chemicals was noticeable. Scientists said differences were detected after just four days of exposure.

These research results have posed some concerns about the continued use of these pesticides in the environment. Researchers believe the extent of the brain damage in the bees could ultimately impact their ability to survive since their activity is hindered and they cannot bring food back to the hive, causing the queen bees to starve and become unable to reproduce.

“These studies highlight potential dangers to pollinators of continued exposure to pesticides that target the insect nervous system and the importance of identifying combinations of pesticides that could profoundly impact pollinator survival,” Christopher Connolly, who led the University of Dundee study, said in a statement distributed by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (courtesy of Bloomberg's Business Week).

Neonicotinoids are reported to be the most often used insecticide across the globe.  Coumaphos is more limited in use and is primarily used to battle a parasite that impacts honey bees. Both chemicals, however, are said to have negative effects on bees. Bees that were exposed to both chemicals simultaneously, were reported to have a greater level of negative effects. 

The issue has become a divisive one, as a report published by the British government's Food and Environment Research Agency, found no adverse connection between the pesticides and bees, reported Science Recorder.  

The full study was recently published in the journal Nature Communications.

More about this author: Leigh Goessl

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