May 16, 2017 01:06 PM EDT
A UK team examines and reports that using a pesticide in spring may impact wild bumblebees and disturb their life cycles. Looking at the bumblebees in the English countryside has also made the team examine the insecticide, thiamethoxam, which they suggest brings down the development of eggs in the queen bees. Hence, this year, the population of the bees is likely to be hit.
This neonicotinoid insecticide, Thiamethoxam, is among three that has been limited for use by the EU, which has always felt that it would leave an impact on wild queen bees, according to Phys.org. Scientists explored the effect of the insecticide on four species of queen bumblebees that were captured in the wide in spring.
The study was published in Proceedings of the Royal Society of B. The team looked at the effects of the insecticide at different levels that were thought to be like those seen in the wild. They were explored in the lab. After getting exposed for a fortnight, two of the four species of bumblebees ingested less food. Their egg development also got affected.
"We consistently found that neonicotinoid exposure, at levels mimicking exposure that queens could experience in agricultural landscapes, resulted in reduced ovary development in queens of all four species we tested," said lead researcher, Dr. Gemma Baron of the Royal Holloway University of London. The neonicotinoid insecticides are thought to affect only particular species of bumblebees. Two out of four species of queen bees are said to consume less artificial nectar when they become vulnerable to the pesticide. He added that the impact is likely to reduce the success of bumblebee queens in the spring. There are expected to be "knock-on effects" for the bumblebees much later in the year.
Scientists affirm that the study is "a major step forward" in looking at the effects of the neonicotinoids on wild queen bumblebees in general as well as in particular species. At present, bumblebee queens are not thought to be vulnerable to risk. Fertilized queens that hibernate after consuming pollen and nectar to build up their fat might get affected in future. In general, bumblebees are thought to be at risk due to threats from pathogens, loss of habitat and pesticides.