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Bee Colony-Collapse: Are Unsprayed Wildflowers a Factor in Pesticide Contamination?

Nov 03, 2015 03:53 PM EST
Leafcutter bee
A recent study found that bees may be getting an increased and prolonged exposure to neonicotinoid pesticides, because of affected but unsprayed wildflowers near agriculture. Details here.
(Photo : Flickr: Gail Hampshire)

While some scientists have noted that the pesticides called neonicotinoids are a likely contributor to bee-colony die-offs, a new report in the journal Environmental Science & Technology notes that these chemicals may not be present only on agricultural crops and some tended gardens, but also on unsprayed wildflowers alongside those crops and gardens.

In general, factors cited as possible causes are habitat loss, being around parasites and neonicotinoids. But flowering plants that grow on farms, and wildflowers sown to draw pollinators, may also be affecting the balance, according to a release.

In the study, the team looked at pollen samples from near arable fields, as well as from beehives on five U.K. farms. The findings noted that neonicotinoid residues were often present in wildflowers in those locations; also, from the pollen in the bee hives, 97 percent of neonicotinoids in the pollen was from wildflowers.

Because wildflowers are not directly treated with pesticides, this suggests that neonicotinoids are probably leaching through the soil and being drawn in by wildflowers. As a result, exposure to the pesticides is likely to be at a greater rate and last longer than currently thought, according to the release.

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