14:19 20 January 2014
Researchers from the School of Biological Sciences at Royal Holloway have revealed that they have reason to believe that bumblebees are getting smaller due to exposure to widely used pesticides that are used on flowering crops to prevent damage caused by insects.
This, they claim, affects the size of their offspring as well. The British Scientists believe that the size could make them less efficient at foraging for nectar and distributing pollen.
One of the researchers, Gemma Baron, said: "We already know that larger bumblebees are more effective at foraging.
"Our result, revealing that this pesticide causes bees to hatch out at a smaller size, is of concern as the size of workers produced in the field is likely to be a key component of colony success, with smaller bees being less efficient at collecting nectar and pollen from flowers."
Professor Mark Brown, who led the Royal Holloway group, said: "Bumblebees are essential to our food chain so it's critical we understand how wild bees might be impacted by the chemicals we are putting into the environment.
"We know we have to protect plants from insect damage but we need to find a balance and ensure we are not harming our bees in the process."
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