PerspectiveEcology

Pesticide affects social behavior of bees

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Science  09 Nov 2018:
Vol. 362, Issue 6415, pp. 643-644
DOI: 10.1126/science.aav5273

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Summary

Bees are critically important to agricultural crop production and to the reproduction of most flowering plant species on the planet (1). Yet, these essential ecosystem service providers are in decline around the world (1, 2). Widespread pesticide use associated with increasingly intensive agriculture is one of several, likely interacting, factors that contribute to these concerning pollinator declines (2). Although insecticide applications are targeted at controlling pests, their use can have unintended impacts on beneficial insects, including bees. As the most widely used class of insecticides in the world, neonicotinoids have come under considerable scrutiny following concerns around their nontarget impacts on bees (3). On page 683 of this issue, Crall et al. (4) identify how exposure to these neurotoxic insecticides can adversely affect individual bumblebees and social dynamics within their colony.