Neonics "harm crop pollination" say researchers

Exposure to neonicotinoid pesticides appears impair the pollination services provided by bumblebees, according to research on apple trees in the UK and Canada.

Image: Stewart Black
Image: Stewart Black

The study, published this week in the high-impact journal Nature, claims bumblebees exposed to a "realistic" level of neonicotinoid pesticides found in agricultural environments collected pollen from apple trees less often and visited flowers less frequently.

The researchers from Royal Holloway University of London, University of Reading and University of Guelph in Canada found that trees pollinated by the pesticide-exposed bumblebees produced apples with 36 per cent fewer seeds, a factor closely associated with fruit quality in most apple varieties.

Lead author Dr Dara Stanley of Royal Holloway said: "To our knowledge this is the first study to examine the impacts of pesticides not just on bees themselves, but on the crucial pollination services they provide to crops and wild plants."


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