When I went to University Nigel Raine was teaching a course on animal behavior where the main subject of his lectures was bumblebees. Nigel has now published a paper in Functional Ecology discussing the impacts of pesticides on the ability for bumblebees to forage and the implications this may have on the survival of the colonies.
Bumblebees (Bombus terrestis) are essential insect pollinators that are vital to healthy crop yields and biodiversity, but their populations have been in decline. The loss of bumblebees has had disastrous implications for both agricultural crops and wild plants. According to some estimates, bees pollinate three-fourth of agricultural crop species, which have an estimated global value of over $150 billion per year. This number does not account for the positive effects of a healthy population of wild plants. "Although pesticide exposure has been implicated as a possible cause for bee decline," says Raine, "until now we had limited understanding of the risk these chemicals pose, especially how it affects natural foraging behavior."