Technology

Study: Neonics Hinder Bees' Ability to Fend Off Deadly Mites


A University of Guelph study is the first to uncover the impact of neonicotinoid pesticides on honey bees' ability to groom and rid themselves of deadly mites.


The research comes as Health Canada places new limits on the use of three key neonicotinoids while it decides whether to impose a full phase-out of the chemicals.


Published in the Nature journal Scientific Reports , the study revealed that when honey bees are infected with varroa mites and then regularly exposed to low doses of a commonly used neonicotinoid called clothianidin, their self-grooming behavior drops off.


Without that self-grooming, bees are susceptible to mites that can also carry viruses that can quickly kill, said Nuria Morfin Ramirez, lead author, who completed the research along with Ernesto Guzman, School of Environmental Sciences, as part of her Ph.D.


The researchers wanted to know whether the two stressors of pesticide exposure varroa mites were working together to contribute to bee deaths.


"What we found was a complicated interaction between the mite and the pesticide that decreased the proportion of bees that groomed intensively, and affected genes associated with neurodegenerative processes," Morfin said.






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