A possible newly discovered threat to honey bees

Research published in 2010 found high levels of miticides and agrochemicals in North American bee colonies. Research just published has found that organosilicone surfactants, used as adjuvants in agricultural pesticides, cause significant learning impairment when ingested by honey bees. Adjuvants are substances added to a pesticide spray to increase the effectiveness of the pesticide. According to the article, they have, up until now, been regarded as safe and manufacturers often keep their chemical composition secret.

The article recommends that the perceived status of pesticide adjuvants as ‘inert’ materials that can do no harm to biological organisms should be reconsidered. The researchers are undertaking further work to clarify specific ingredients in adjuvants responsible for their behavioral impacts on bees.

Mullin CA, Frazier M, Frazier JL, Ashcraft S, Simonds R, et al. (2010) High levels of miticides and agrochemicals in North American apiaries: Implications for honey bee health. PLoS ONE 5(3): e9754. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sites/entrez?db=pubmed&cmd=Search&doptcmdl=Citation&defaultField=Title%20Word&term=Mullin%5Bauthor%5D%20AND%20High%20levels%20of%20miticides%20and%20agrochemicals%20in%20North%20American%20apiaries%3A%20Implications%20for%20honey%20bee%20health.

Timothy J. Ciarlo*, Christopher A. Mullin, James L. Frazier, Daniel R. Schmehl. (2012) Learning Impairment in Honey Bees Caused by Agricultural Spray Adjuvants. PLoS ONE 7(7): e40848. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0040848. http://www.plosone.org/article/citationList.action?articleURI=info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0040848

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