Tuesday, 22 June 2010
Bees in the news Here in the UK Bees are being fitted with tiny radio ID tags to monitor their movements as part of research into whether pesticides could be giving the insects brain disorders, scientists have revealed.
The study is examining concerns that pesticides could be damaging bees' abilities to gather food, navigate and even perform their famous "waggle dance" through which they tell other bees where nectar can be found.
The research is part of a raft of studies which will look at declines in pollinators including bees, hoverflies, butterflies and moths, amid fears over the impact of their falling numbers.
Experts said three of the UK's 25 bumblebee species had gone extinct, while half had suffered declines of up to 70%. Three quarters of butterfly species were declining, while there was little "robust science" on what was happening to other insect pollinators such as hoverflies, the researchers said.
It is estimated insect pollinators contribute £440 million to the UK economy through their role in fertilising crops, with produce such as strawberries dependent on being properly pollinated by insects to produce good-quality fruit. Other research being funded as part of the £10 million initiative include a study into pollinators in cities, the impacts of disease on pollinating insects and the effects of modern agriculture on bees.
Research is also being conducted into whether the decline in wildflowers such as red clover and bird's foot trefoil is the result of falling numbers of insects to pollinate them. Professor Andrew Watkinson, director of the Living with Environmental Change programme under which the projects are being funded, said: "We've seen well-documented changes in our birds, our flowers and also in some of our insects. "Now there is growing concern insect pollinators are in decline."
Posted by Ian Brealey at 03:39