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expert reaction to neonicotinoids and nutritional stress in honey bees

A new study, published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, reports neonicotinoid pesticides and nutritional stress synergistically reduce survival in honey bees.


Dr Jonathan Storkey, plant ecologist at Rothamsted Research, said:

“The paper provides further evidence for the negative effects on bees of exposure to sub-lethal concentrations of neonicotinoids. However, the novelty of the work is to put this effect in the context of additional stresses on bee survival and fitness, in this case decreasing nutritional quality of their food sources. Interestingly, sub-lethal and field realistic doses of neonicotinoids did not significantly reduce survival when bees were supplied with ample supplies of nutritionally rich food. It was only when bees were stressed by nutritionally poor diets that a synergistic negative effect of the pesticides was observed. The results emphasise the need to consider the wider ecological requirements of non-target organisms when assessing the environmental risks of pesticides and the potential to mitigate harm through the provision of supplementary sources of pollinator habitat such as wild flower field margins.”


* ‘Neonicotinoid pesticides and nutritional stress synergistically reduce survival in honeybees’ by Simone Tosi et al published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B on Wednesday 20 December. 


Declared interests

None received.

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