Researchers from the University of Dundee in the U.K. have been awarded a grant to study the build up of industrial chemicals in the brains of bumblebees and honeybees. Scientists are investigating if pesticides could be causing brain damage among bees and the major decline in insect numbers and they are monitoring the learning capacity and performance of bees.
Dr Chris Connolly, Dr Jenni Harvey and colleagues will look at the affect on navigation, foraging and communication in the bees by attaching tiny radio tags to the bees to monitor their movements and weight and assess specific learning tasks.
This three-year study, is funded by the Insect Pollinators Initiative, who are exploring the causes and consequences of threats to insect pollinators. Key aims of the study are to provide evidence "to inform the conservation of wild insect pollinators and to improve the husbandry of managed species, in order to avoid the potentially catastrophic loss of the ecosystem services they provide. To provide a basis for reducing current declines and sustaining healthy and diverse populations of pollinating insects for the future." Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council
An investigation into the synergistic impact of sublethal exposure to industrial chemicals on the learning capacity and performance of bees (PDF 203KB)
Bee Lavender Photograph by Chelsea Lowe