Declining bee populations have caused widespread alarm in Europe, with experts blaming the crisis on a combination of factors: climate change, pesticides - notably neonicotinoids
- and varroa mites spreading in beehives.
target nerve receptors in insects that are similar to receptors targeted by nicotine in mammals.
"This provides in vitro evidence that neonicotinoids
can be endocrine disruptors and that aromatase may be one of their targets," says first author Elyse Caron-Beaudoin, a recent PhD graduate who is now at the University of Montreal.
If you're buying seeds or plants, make sure they are not treated with neonicotinoids
(neonics), which are a group of insecticides that are related to nicotine.
On the basis of the chemical composition of the insecticides, the global insecticides market is broadly categorized in five different segments namely organophosphorus compounds, pyrethroids, neonicotinoids
, methyl carbamates, and others.
With its ban, France has gone further than the European Union, which voted to outlaw the use of three neonicotinoids
-- clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiamethoxam -- in crop fields.
"Our findings that bumblebees acquire a taste for neonicotinoids
ticks certain symptoms of addictive behaviour, which is intriguing given the addictive properties of nicotine on humans, although more research is needed to determine this in bees."
In experiments, researchers showed that bees initially put off by sugar water containing neonicotinoids
-- the most widely-used class of insecticide worldwide -- soon started seeking them out to the exclusion of untainted food.
It and similar "sulfoximine" agents are seen as likely replacements for neonicotinoids
, which are now being banned for outdoor use in Europe.
For hobbyists or farmers alike, what is creating a buzz now for all is a decision by the European Union (EU) to ban neonicotinoids
, with the near total prohibition on the pesticides coming into effect at the end of the year -- and then they can be used in confined greenhouse environments only.