News & AnalysisAgriculture

Field Research on Bees Raises Concern About Low-Dose Pesticides

Science  30 Mar 2012:
Vol. 335, Issue 6076, pp. 1555
DOI: 10.1126/science.335.6076.1555

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Five years ago, bees made headlines when a mysterious condition called colony collapse disorder decimated honey bee colonies in parts of the United States. Now bees are poised to be in the news again, this time because of evidence that systemic insecticides, a common way to protect crops, indirectly harm these important pollinators. Two field studies reported online this week in Science document problems. In bumble bees, exposure to one such chemical leads to a dramatic loss of queens and could help explain the insects' decline. In honey bees, another insecticide interferes with the foragers' ability to find their way back to the hive. Researchers say these findings are cause for concern and will increase pressure to improve pesticide testing and regulation.