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new study on neonics and impact on bumblebees

There is growing concern over the impact of the neonicotinoids to insect pollinators and how their loss may limit the ecosystem services that are vital to our food production (globally worth US$215 billion) and the stability of our natural environment.

In a new study, published in Scientific Reports, researchers directly relate the effects of three neonicotinoids, at the level of individual brain cells to their impact on whole colonies of bumblebees placed at 5 different sites across Scotland. The conclusions from this study demonstrate that these three neonicotinoids must be considered individually for their risk to bees. Most importantly, the research asks whether they are all toxic (when exposed chronically to field-relevant levels) to bumblebees under the conditions of a field experiment.

Journalists came along to the Science Media Centre to discuss issues such as:

  • At field levels, do toxic levels of neonicotinoids reach the bee brain?
  • Do bees become more sensitive to neonicotinoids when exposed for long periods?
  • Can neonicotinoids affect the sex ratio in bee colonies?
  • Which neonicotinoids are toxic to bumblebees?
  • Which neonicotinoids are not toxic to bumblebees?
  • Does this mean that some neonicotinoids are safe?
  • Are laboratory studies realistic? Are field studies realistic?
  • Are these findings statistically significant?
  • Why can’t we monitor the impact of individual neonicotinoids in the field?

Roundup comments accompanied this briefing.



Dr Christopher Connolly, Reader in Neurobiology, Centre for Environmental Change and Human Resilience, University of Dundee.

Prof. Stephen Buckland, Centre for Research into Ecological and Environmental Modelling, University of St. Andrews.

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