New bee study points finger at neonicotinoid

WINNIPEG, Aug. 15 – A commonly used neonicotinoid pesticide is being blamed in a new report for increasing bumblebee’s risk of extinction.

Ontario researcher Nigel Raine, at the University of Guelph, said thiamethoxam can reduce the chances of bumblebee queens starting new colonies by about 25 per cent.

The results of the study were published in Nature Ecology & Evolution.

Raine said bumblebee queens exposed to the pesticide were 26 per cent less likely to lay eggs to start new colonies.

Researchers then applied a mathematical model and found that this rate of decline could threaten extinction of wild bumblebees.

Bee populations have been falling worldwide, with parasites, climate change and pesticides regarded as leading causes.


Bees are key pollinators for more agricultural crops, and bumblebees are known especially for pollinating fruits and vegetables. Most of the research into bees until now has focused on honeybees.

Raine and his colleagues exposed more than 300 queen bees to stressors commonly found in the environment, including parasites. Half of the bees that emerged from hibernation were fed syrup with pesticides at levels similar to what the bees might find in the environment. The queens given the pesticide were far less likely to lay eggs, then the half that had the parasites only.

Bumblebee queens carry out the work of setting up their colonies alone, unlike honeybee queens that receive help from drones.

Thiamethoxam is used as a seed treatment for soybeans and corn and other crops.


  • ed

    Isn’t that what the dozens of other peer reviewed studies were showing in the last 10 years. Hopefully someone that is in very powerful position and with some further advise as to the importance of bees to the survival of the planet, decides to ban the products that have these neo’s in them.

  • Dr

    Why is it taking so long to determine that continuous use of a certain product is the culprit. As a species we humans are really quite slow learners. And I mean that on a geological scale….”Its good….Its bad…oh no it’s good again…oops no it’s actually bad …but those companies fund our universities….it’s good again!…..Shhhhhhhhhh!

    A bit of caution would go a long way when introducing man made chemicals into “Our” environment.

    All for the almighty dollar

  • Terry Phillips

    Since corn and soybeans have seed treated with Thiamethoxam at planting, and corn and soybeans are not a large producer of pollen or nectar, was intake factored in from real world conditions ? An insect fed an insecticide is usually killed so it is amazing only 26% ” were likely ” to lay eggs to start new colonies !

  • Bubba

    So were the bees that were exposed to the neonics also infested with parasites? If so, this study is flawed.

    • ed

      The parasites have always been there, so are a constant in the study like the bees themselves. So the study would therefore not be flawed.