Can bees get addicted to neonicotinoids? New research published in Nature shows that bees prefer food containing these pesticides, including imidacloprid, with potentially damaging results.
Sébastien C. Kessler from the Institute of Neuroscience, Newcastle University (UK) & Erin Jo Tiedeken from the Botany Department at Trinity College, Dublin, compared the feeding preferences of both honey bees (Apis mellifera) and the buff-tailed bumble bee (Bombus terrestris) when offered the choice of a standard sucrose solution or one containing nectar-relevant concentrations of each of three neonicotinoid pesticides – imidacloprid (IMD), thiamethoxam (TMX) and clothianidin (CLO).
First, it appears that bees cannot taste neonics, as stimulation of their gustatory nerves with each of the three pesticides produced no response. Second, both species of bees preferred to eat the sucrose containing either IMD or TMX neonics, but eating this food made them eat less overall when compared to the control group.
The researchers conclude that:
“This work shows that bees cannot control their exposure to neonicotinoids in food and implies that treating flowering crops with IMD and TMX presents a sizeable hazard to foraging bees.”
More at Naturedoi:10.1038/nature14414