Pesticides Can Block Colony Formation in Bumblebees, Could Lead to Extinction: Study

By Jason Erickson

Regular readers of Natural Blaze are probably well aware of the threat that neonics present to the ecosystem. For this reason, it is essential that we continue to focus on each new study that reinforces what the alternative media seems willing to cover, but the mainstream not so much.

The plight of the pollinator continues to be documented by studies linking neonicotinoid pesticides to a range of negative effects upon bees and their colonies. Neonics have been implicated in tens of millions of bees instantly dropping dead at a single honey farm after nearby spraying of GMO crops. One type of neonic has even been shown to negatively affect social behavior within the hive itself, causing bees to abandon their responsibilities with protective care and foraging.

The issue is exacerbated by major producers of these pesticides who have been implicated in false advertising, self-funded studies, and covering up their own negative test results, thus making it difficult for the public at large to become fully informed about the severity of what is taking place.

While an increasing number of countries, particularly in Europe, have become properly aware and have taken action against neonicotinoids, the U.S. stubbornly clings to their widespread use. This is happening even as the bumblebee has been put on the endangered species list in the U.S. for the first time.

A new study adds to a developing concern that aside from the aftereffects of neonics upon living bees, they are also fundamentally restricting breeding patterns and colony formation. Researchers are sounding the alarm that if protective measures are not taken, this logically could lead to a full extinction of the bumblebee.

Many people remain unaware that neonicotinoids are a family of pesticides, each of which carries its own negative consequences. Thiamethoxam is one of them that is being scrutinized. Professor Nigel Raine from the University of Guelph has been instrumental in establishing that this particular neonic threatens breeding patterns. The first study, which we covered back in May, concluded that:

…neonicotinoid pesticides hinder wild queen bumblebee’s reproductive success.

Raine says if queens need to use energy to clear pesticides from their system instead of investing in eggs, there will be fewer fully developed eggs. “This will likely translate into slower egg-laying rates, which will then impede colony development and growth.”

In the newest study from Raine, et al., which appeared in Nature Ecology and Evolution, what was previously suspected is sadly being confirmed and fully quantified, with a minimum of 25% reduction of colony formation.

Bumblebees are less able to start colonies when exposed to a common neonicotinoid pesticide, according to a new University of Guelph study.

Prof. Nigel Raine has discovered that exposure to thiamethoxam reduces the chances of a bumblebee queen starting a new colony by more than a quarter.

“Bumblebee queens that were exposed to the neonicotinoid were 26 per cent less likely to lay eggs to start a colony,” said Raine, holder of the Rebanks Family Chair in Pollinator Conservation. “A reduction this big in the ability of queens to start new colonies significantly increases the chances that wild populations could go extinct.”


One has to wonder how much more evidence needs to be acquired for regulatory agencies across the world to speed up efforts to eradicate these toxins from the ecosystem. We certainly look forward to the day when this becomes a topic that we no longer need to cover.

Jason Erickson writes for This article (Pesticides Can Block Colony Formation in Bumblebees, Could Lead to Extinction: Study) may be republished in part or in full with author attribution and source link.

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