New research has emerged from the Universities of Dundee and St. Andrews which shows that accepted environmental levels of neonicotinoids impair bumblebee brain functionality and consequently negatively impact the performance of whole colonies.
The research, published in the Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, is the first to demonstrate that the levels of neonicotinoids commonly found in the pollen and nectar of treated plants affect bumblebee brains. The results show that very low levels of neonicotinoids could cause up to a 55% reduction of living bees found in a colony and up to a 71% reduction in healthy brood cells.
On these findings one of the researchers Dr Chris Connolly said: “Our research demonstrates beyond doubt that the level of neonicotinoids generally accepted as the average level present in the wild causes brain dysfunction and colonies to perform poorly when consumed by bumblebees,” he said. “In fact, our research showed that the ability to perturb brain cells can be found at 1/5 to 1/10 of the levels that people think are present in the wild.