Clothianidin 'significantly affects honeybees' learning' finds study - but not bumblebees

Exposure to the neonicotinoid clothianidin "significantly affects the learning of honeybees but has no effect on bumblebees", scientists from the University of Sussex have discovered.

The research is the first time scientists have looked into how both species respond to field-realistic-levels of clothianidin, which was banned for use on flowering crops by the European Union in 2013.

Scientists exposed honeybee and bumblebee workers to the pesticide for 11-12 days and then assessed the effect of the pesticide using a proboscis extension reflex conditioning assay, which tests how bees learn to associate an odour with a sugar reward. The scientists found that clothianidin impaired the honeybees’ ability to learn the association, but surprisingly had no adverse effects on the bumblebees.

The findings come after the European Food Safety Authority announced earlier this year it is to review the moratorium on use of three pesticides, including clothianidin, and will report back by the end of January 2017.

Dave Goulson, Professor of Biology at the University of Sussex said: "Our research has important implications for global regulatory assessments which generally use honeybees as a model for all bees.

"We show for the first time how this banned pesticide, while having a significant negative effect on learning in honeybees, had no adverse effects on learning in bumblebees. This is unexpected, since previous work suggested that this pesticide has a more pronounced impact on colonies of bumblebees than on those of honeybees.

"During a time when the EU regulation of certain pesticides is being reviewed, we must ensure regulators learn from this research and do not readily extrapolate findings from one bee species to others."

The research also looked at how the microsporidian parasite Nosema ceranae, which is a potential threat to honey bee populations in Europe, affects the memory and learning of both species. The study found that infection by the parasite slightly impaired learning in honeybees, however the parasite did not infect bumblebees.

The study entitled, "Chronic neonicotinoid pesticide exposure and parasite stress differentially affects learning in honeybees and bumblebees" is to be published in The Royal Society’s Proceedings B Paper


Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Sign up now
Already registered?
Sign in

Read These Next

Tractors: market roundup

Tractors: market roundup

Manufacturers are working to provide solutions to many challenges. Sally Drury looks at their newest models.

Aster

Aster

Brightening up gardens in autumn, these daisies are seen as a gem in the gardener's arsenal, writes Miranda Kimberley.

Are tree suppliers seeing the benefit of the health message of trees?

Are tree suppliers seeing the benefit of the health message of trees?

The message that health, the environment and business all benefit from trees is finally getting through, but are nurseries seeing an upturn? Sally Drury reports.


Opinion... Why no-deal Brexit should worry you

Opinion... Why no-deal Brexit should worry you

Whether you voted leave or remain all those years ago, a "no-deal" Brexit should worry you.

I will not be importing oaks this season. Will you?

I will not be importing oaks this season. Will you?

I find myself in a difficult situation. A few weeks ago I was fortunate to be present to hear details of imminent changes to regulations concerning Oak Processionary Moth (OPM) and oak trees. I heard details, asked questions and probed the implications of these changes. That may not sound like a difficult position to be in, yet I am uneasy.

Opinion... Better targets to tackle pollution

Opinion... Better targets to tackle pollution

Lobby groups jumping onto fashionable campaigns, often to promote their own interests, can do much more harm than good. Take, for example, the move against black polythene plant pots and containers.


Follow us on:
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
  • Google +
Horticulture Jobs
More Horticulture Jobs

Horticulture Week Top 60 Ornamentals nurseries

See our exclusive RANKING of ornamentals nurseries by annual turnover plus the FULL REPORT AND ANALYSIS

Tim Edwards

Boningales Nursery chairman Tim Edwards on the business of ornamentals production
 

Read Tim Edwards

Pest & Disease Tracker bulletin 

The latest pest and disease alerts, how to treat them, plus EAMU updates, sent direct to your inbox.

Sign up here

Are you a landscape supplier?

Horticulture Week Landscape Project Leads

If so, you should be receiving our new service for Horticulture Week subscribers delivering landscape project leads from live, approved, planning applications across the UK.

Peter Seabrook

Inspiration and insight from travels around the horticultural world
 

Read more Peter Seabrook articles