A new study states that bees are increasingly getting addicted to neonicotinoids pesticides. Neonicotinoids pesticides are used for seed dressing of rapeseed, but they affect wild bees and interfere with their growth and reproduction.
The study, which was conducted by the researchers from the Institute of Neuroscience at Newcastle University, and published in the Nature journal, states that neonicotinoids pesticides dramatically harm wild bees. However, the wild bees are increasingly getting addicted to them.
Geraldine Wright from the Institute of Neuroscience at Newcastle University, and the lead author of the study, said, “Neonicotinoids target the same mechanisms in the bee brain that are affected by nicotine in the human brain. 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.”
For their study, the researchers observed buff-tailed bumblebees and honeybees in closed environments. They gave the insects a choice between consuming pure sugar water or samples containing trace amounts of neonicotinoids. They placed both the substances in equal quantity and in similar containers. They found that the insects preferred the pesticide-laced water.
According to the researchers, the bees are unable to taste the pesticides, and therefore are oblivious of their presence. However, the addictive properties of the neonicotinoid, causes the bees to get hooked to the substance.
“If foraging favor to collect nectar consisting of neonicotinoids, this can have a knock-on unfavorable influence on whole colonies as well as on bee population,” added Wright.
Neonicotinoids are a class of neuro-active pesticides chemically similar to nicotine. The neonicotinoid family includes acetamiprid, clothianidin, imidacloprid, nitenpyram, nithiazine, thiacloprid and thiamethoxam. Imidacloprid is the most widely used insecticide in the world.
The researchers are now hoping that governments across the world will ban the pesticide before it causes irreparable damage to the ecosystem. However, they will face stiff opposition from the farmers who prefer the pesticide for its effectiveness.