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2 Studies Point to Common Pesticide as a Culprit in Declining Bee Colonies


Scientists have been alarmed and puzzled by declines in bee populations in the United States and other parts of the world. They have suspected that pesticides are playing a part, but to date their experiments have yielded conflicting, ambiguous results.


In Thursday’s issue of the journal Science, two teams of researchers published studies suggesting that low levels of a common pesticide can have significant effects on bee colonies. One experiment, conducted by French researchers, indicates that the chemicals fog honeybee brains, making it harder for them to find their way home. The other study, by scientists in Britain, suggests that they keep bumblebees from supplying their hives with enough food to produce new queens.

The authors of both studies contend that their results raise serious questions about the use of the pesticides, known as neonicotinoids.

“I personally would like to see them not being used until more research has been done,” said David Goulson, an author of the bumblebee paper who teaches at the University of Stirling, in Scotland. “If it confirms what we’ve found, then they certainly shouldn’t be used when they’re going to be fed on by bees.”

A new study has shown that bee venom can kill the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).


Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have demonstrated that a toxin called melittin found in bee venom can destroy HIV by poking holes in the envelope surrounding the virus, according to a news release sent out by Washington University.

Visit Washington University's website to read more about the study.

Nanoparticles smaller than HIV were infused with the bee venom toxin, explains U.S. News & World Report. A "protective bumper" was added to the nanoparticle's surface, allowing it to bounce off normal cells and leave them intact. Normal cells are larger than HIV, so the nanoparticles target HIV, which is so small it fits between the bumpers.

“Melittin on the nanoparticles fuses with the viral envelope,” said research instructor Joshua L. Hood, MD, PhD, via the news release. “The melittin forms little pore-like attack complexes and ruptures the envelope, stripping it off the virus.” Adding, “We are attacking an inherent physical property of HIV. Theoretically, there isn’t any way for the virus to adapt to that. The virus has to have a protective coat, a double-layered membrane that covers the virus.”

Nectar That Gives Bees a Buzz Lures Them Back for More

Nothing kicks the brain into gear like a jolt of caffeine. For bees, that is. And they don’t need to stand in line for a triple soy latte. A new study shows that the naturally caffeine-laced nectar of some plants enhances the learning process for bees, so that they are more likely to return to those flowers.

“The plant is using this as a drug to change a pollinator’s behavior for its own benefit,” said Geraldine Wright, a honeybee brain specialist at Newcastle University in England, who, with her colleagues, reported those findings in Science on Thursday.

The research, other scientists said, not only casts a new light on the ancient evolutionary interaction between plants and pollinators, but is an intriguing confirmation of deep similarities in brain chemistry across the animal kingdom.

Honey bee survival rate better in west of Scotland

A “striking” difference in honey bee survival rates between the east and west of Scotland has been recorded by scientists, prompting calls for greater action to tackle the decline of the species.....

Scientists believe the presence of intensive agriculture and large areas of oilseed rape in the east could be linked to the poorer results for the area.

“In the west, it’s largely wild crops that they are feeding on, such as trees, heather and gorse.

“It could be that the intensive agriculture and intensive levels of pesticides are contributing to the failure of the bees......

Dr Connolly believes nicotine-based pesticides, neonicotinoids, may be contributing to the deaths of bees feeding on the crop, which is more commonly grown in the east.

He said: “All oilseed rape is treated with neonicotinoids, you can’t buy it without it being pre-treated with neonicotinoids.”...

The buzz and the bees: Flowers use electrical fields to communicate with insects
 … with voltage indicdicating pollen levels.
  • Flowers use electrical signals which work alongside their physical attributes
  • This enhances their advertising power to bees
  • Scientists studied almost 200 bees collecting pollen from petunias

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    Seeing a large bumblebee inside a bright flower is a common sight over the warm summer months.

    It has long been known that bees are attracted to the flowers by their bright colours and enticing fragrances.

    However, it has now emerged that flowers are using less obvious forces to attract their pollinators.

    Scientists revealed today that blooms give out electrical signals to attract bumblebees to their pollen - with their voltage changing to warn others when their nectar is low.

    The flowers use electrical signals which work in concert with their physical attributes - enhancing their advertising power to bees.

    The team, from the University of Bristol, studied almost 200 bees collecting pollen from petunias to reveal the electrical relationship for the first time.

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