Pesticides bad for bee brains

Studies note disturbing behavior of honey bees following pesticide exposure

Two types of commonly used chemicals—coumaphos and neonicotinoid pesticides—interfere with the way honey bees learn and remember, new research suggests.

Researchers from Scotland’s University of Dundee found that if the pesticides were applied directly to the brains of honey bees, they caused “immediate hyper-activation,” or “epileptic-type activity,” according to BBC News. A separate study based on laboratory experiments at the UK’s Newcastle University found that bees exposed to both pesticides were unable to learn and remember floral smells associated with a sweet-nectar reward, a skill critical to bees in search of food.

“It would imply that the bees are able to forage less effectively,” said Dr. Sally Williamson of Newcastle University. “They are less able to find and learn and remember and then communicate to their hive mates what the good sources of pollen and nectar are.”