Report

Neonicotinoid exposure disrupts bumblebee nest behavior, social networks, and thermoregulation

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science  09 Nov 2018:
Vol. 362, Issue 6415, pp. 683-686
DOI: 10.1126/science.aat1598

You are currently viewing the abstract.

View Full Text

Log in to view the full text

Log in through your institution

Log in through your institution

Trouble at the hive

Neonicotinoid pesticides cause mortality and decline in insect pollinators. One repeatedly noted effect is a reduction in bee colony size. However, the mechanism behind this reduction is unclear. Crall et al. performed complex real-time monitoring of bumblebee behavior within their nests (see the Perspective by Raine). Neonicotinoid exposure reduced nurse and caretaking behaviors, which affected productivity and harmed colony thermoregulation. These changes in behavior acted together to decrease colony viability, even when exposure was nonlethal.

Science, this issue p. 683; see also p. 643

Abstract

Neonicotinoid pesticides can negatively affect bee colonies, but the behavioral mechanisms by which these compounds impair colony growth remain unclear. Here, we investigate imidacloprid’s effects on bumblebee worker behavior within the nest, using an automated, robotic platform for continuous, multicolony monitoring of uniquely identified workers. We find that exposure to field-realistic levels of imidacloprid impairs nursing and alters social and spatial dynamics within nests, but that these effects vary substantially with time of day. In the field, imidacloprid impairs colony thermoregulation, including the construction of an insulating wax canopy. Our results show that neonicotinoids induce widespread disruption of within-nest worker behavior that may contribute to impaired growth, highlighting the potential of automated techniques for characterizing the multifaceted, dynamic impacts of stressors on behavior in bee colonies.

View Full Text