Large study links key pesticide to weakened honeybee hives

  • In this May 27, 2015, photo, volunteer Ben Merritt, a graduate student at the University of Cincinnati, checks honeybee hives for queen activity and performs routine maintenance as part of a collaboration between the Cincinnati Zoo and TwoHoneys Bee Co., in Mason, Ohio. A common and much-criticized pesticide dramatically weakens already vulnerable honey bee hives, according to a new, massive in-the-field study in three European countries. AP Photo/John Minchillo

  • In this May 22, 2009, photo, a bumble bee hovers over gorse in Noss Mayo, England. A common and much-criticized pesticide dramatically weakens already vulnerable honey bee hives, according to a new, massive in-the-field study in three European countries. AP Photo/Odd Andersen

AP Science Writer
Published: 6/29/2017 2:57:59 PM

WASHINGTON — A massive new study in three European countries finds a common pesticide dramatically weakens already vulnerable honeybee hives.

For their experiment, researchers planted fields of rapeseed, which is made into cooking oil. Some of the fields were planted with seeds treated with the class of insecticides called neonicotinoids, others with untreated seeds. The researchers followed bees from the spring of 2015 when the seeds flowered to the following spring when new bees were born.

In Hungary and Britain, the hives that had bees foraging around insecticide-treated plants had a more difficult time surviving the winter. In Germany, where the bees are generally healthier, there was no noticeable harm to the bees from the insecticide.

The study is in Thursday’s journal Science.

This article will be updated.


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