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Nicotine-like Pesticide Gives Bees a Harmful, Addictive Buzz

posted: 04/23/15
by: Discovery.com Staff
Bumblebee on orange flower
rubenkh/thinkstock

A new study from Newcastle University shows that bees have a strong preference for pesticide-laced nectar.

Researchers focused on neonicotinoids, a popular class of insecticides that chemically resemble nicotine. When presented with sugar water and a sugar solution containing neonicotinoids, bees strongly preferred the pesticide-laced sugar solution.

A separate study by Lund University found that neonicotinoids had a "clear negative impact on growth and ability to reproduce in bumblebee colonies". In 2013, the European Union imposed a temporary ban on the use of three neonicotinoid pesticides so that further research could be conducted.

"The fact that bees show a preference for food containing neonicotinoids is concerning as it suggests that, like nicotine, neonicotinoids may act like a drug to make foods containing these substances more rewarding. If foraging bees prefer to collect nectar containing neonicotinoids, this could have a knock-on negative impact on whole colonies and on bee populations," said Professor Geraldine Wright.

Click here for more information from Newcastle University

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