A major new study conducted in Ontario and Quebec corn fields has found that neonicotinoids, a widely-used and controversial class of pesticides, hurt the health of honey bees, and comes as provincial, federal, and international regulators wrestle with reining in the use of these agrochemicals.
The Canadian research, led by biologists at York University, is published in the journal Science along with another ambitious study conducted in European fields. Together, they address a major gap.
“They are putting these bees into landscapes where farmers are really farming,” says Professor Nigel Raine, Rebanks family chair in pollinator conservation at the University of Guelph, who was not involved in the research. “The key message that’s coming out of both of them is that they found impacts on honey bee colonies. Previously that has not been found in the field, and that has been a source of confusion.”
Both honey bees and wild bees have suffered dramatic declines in recent decades. Bees are critically important pollinators for many crops and most wild flowering plants; estimates of the benefits they provide humans through these “ecosystem services” is measured in the tens of billions of dollars.
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