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Bees aren't getting enough sleep, thanks to some common pesticides

January 21, 2021. Summarized by summa-bot.

Compression ratio: 43.9%. 1 min read.

We are all better after a decent night's sleep -- and insects are no different.

But two new studies have found a commonly used pesticide is disrupting the sleep of bees and flies -- with big consequences for the important insects.

In one study, researchers looked at the effect of pesticides on bumblebee behavior by giving the creatures nectar sugar laced with neonicotinoids -- one of the most commonly used pesticides -- and then tracking their movements in a foraging arena.

The impact of the pesticide -- similar to the amount a bee would encounter in the wild -- was stark.

But bees and other pollinators are under threat because of widespread pesticide use, habitat loss, the climate crisis and parasites, so much so that the odds of spotting the hardworking bumblebee in Europe and America are down by more than 30% since the last century.

"If the time where they are managing to go out and forage is at nighttime when flowers aren't available, that's going to hugely reduce how successful they are at collecting the food that the colony needs to grow and reproduce," Tasman, lead author of the studies, said.

Meanwhile, the same pesticides have already been found to damage the brains of baby bees.

"It looks like these pesticides freeze these cells in a daytime shape, so the body doesn't know if it's daytime or nighttime," Tasman said, adding that it is very likely that the same kind of mechanism happening in the flies is also happening in bees.

Researchers say their studies can help us to further understand how these pesticides are affecting vulnerable insects.

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