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Earth Science

Bees Prefer Nectar Laced With Neonicotinoids 104

Taco Cowboy writes: Neonicotinoids are a class of neuro-active insecticides chemically similar to nicotine. Neonicotinoids kill insects by overwhelming and short-circuiting their central nervous systems (PDF). Shell and Bayer started the development of neonicotinoids back in the 1980s and 1990s. Since this new group of pesticides came to market, the bee population has been devastated in regions where they have been widely used. Studies from 2012 linked neonicotinoid use to crashing bee populations.

New studies, however, have discovered that bees prefer nectar laced with neonicotinoids over nectar free of any trace of neonicotinoids. According to researchers at Newcastle University, the bees may "get a buzz" from the nicotine-like chemicals in the same way smokers crave cigarettes.
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Bees Prefer Nectar Laced With Neonicotinoids

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  • buzz off
  • Don't tell the NeoCons, they'll have all the bees rounded up and put in jail because getting buzzed is immoral if nobody is paying for it.

  • Unfortunatly... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by EmeraldBot ( 3513925 ) on Friday April 24, 2015 @05:39PM (#49548217)
    People and other living beings have a habit of craving the very things that ruin them.
    • People and other living beings have a habit of craving the very things that ruin them.

      Stop me before I post again...

    • i see it as the genius of biochemical warfare by plants

      our livers have been in an evolutionary arms race with plants for hundreds of millions of years. they make a substance that kills, maims, disorients, or deters us. one up plants. our livers do their best to mop it up. one up animals. rinse repeat

      perversely, we've developed a taste for some of those substances. like cayenne pepper or horseradish, as a paradoxically enjoyable taste. or heroin or cocaine, as a disorienting drug

      in a way, the plant still win

  • by hguorbray ( 967940 ) on Friday April 24, 2015 @05:41PM (#49548221)
    Similarly, open containers of antifreeze (left outside after flushing a car's cooling system) have long presented a danger to wild and domestic animals due to the 'sweetness' of the antifreeze.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethylene_glycol_poisoning
    Ethylene Glycol is also used in other engine maintenance fluids -most notable in de-icers, which is the source of most of the ethylene glycol which is released in the environment

    However, except for the dumping of the de-icer, it is probably not as widespread in the environment as the neonics are

    -I'm just sayin'
    • This is why I always try to purchase the "Low Tox" [amazon.com] antifreeze for my vehicles. Should I ever be stranded in a remote location without water, I could survive for days just by cracking the draincock on the radiator. Plus, I don't have to feel as bad about parking my car over the storm sewer and emptying out the cooling system when I do a flush!

      • by hawguy ( 1600213 ) on Friday April 24, 2015 @07:47PM (#49548727)

        This is why I always try to purchase the "Low Tox" [amazon.com] antifreeze for my vehicles. Should I ever be stranded in a remote location without water, I could survive for days just by cracking the draincock on the radiator. Plus, I don't have to feel as bad about parking my car over the storm sewer and emptying out the cooling system when I do a flush!

        Toss a few gallons of water in your trunk before you head to remote locations -- while the propylene glycol in the antifreeze may not kill you, the corrosion inhibitors and other ingredients plus possible oil and combustion product contamination is not going to be great for you.

        • Toss a few gallons of water in your trunk before you head to remote locations -- while the propylene glycol in the antifreeze may not kill you, the corrosion inhibitors and other ingredients

          The glycol is the corrosion inhibitor. That's its job as much as anti-freezing. That's why we use it even in climates without freezes, and not just a smaller package of corrosion inhibitors. You have to substantially change the properties of the water to retard corrosion.

          You wouldn't drink the water in your engine even if it didn't have anything added to it, because with or without a corrosion inhibitor you will still have corrosion, and you don't want to be drinking heavy metals. Iron is not too bad, but A

          • by hawguy ( 1600213 )

            Toss a few gallons of water in your trunk before you head to remote locations -- while the propylene glycol in the antifreeze may not kill you, the corrosion inhibitors and other ingredients

            The glycol is the corrosion inhibitor. That's its job as much as anti-freezing. That's why we use it even in climates without freezes, and not just a smaller package of corrosion inhibitors. You have to substantially change the properties of the water to retard corrosion.

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

            Propylene glycol oxidizes when exposed to air and heat, forming lactic acid.[9][10] If not properly inhibited, this fluid can be very corrosive, so pH buffering agents such as dipotassium phosphate, Protodin and potassium bicarbonate are often added to propylene glycol, to prevent acidic corrosion of metal components.

            http://www.amsoil.com/lit/data... [amsoil.com]

            Amsoil Low-Toxicity Propylene Glycol Antifreeze

            Composition by Weight:
            Total glycols >= 92 percent; Corrosion inhibitors and

            • That stuff is relatively harmless. I'd not suggest using it as an emergency fluid supply for the reasons you and others mention and the fact that propylene glycol is the active ingredient in a number of bowel preparations used to clean the gut completely out before procedures. You'd be sick, nauseated, completely drained and in a world of butt hurt.

              But you won't rust.

      • Try catching it in a bowl, and then look at it and smell it. The antifreeze is the least of your worries.

  • by wonkey_monkey ( 2592601 ) on Friday April 24, 2015 @05:50PM (#49548253) Homepage

    So what you're saying is... *sunglassses* they get a buzz out of it?

    Yeeeaaaa- no.

  • by wilson_c ( 322811 ) on Friday April 24, 2015 @06:41PM (#49548447)

    Colony collapse disorder (CCD) has been linked in studies to insecticides, pollution, climate change, GMO crops, viruses, fungi, and on and on. Unfortunately, those are merely statistically correlative links and the actual cause of CCD has yet to be determined.

    • by Marginal Coward ( 3557951 ) on Friday April 24, 2015 @07:14PM (#49548601)

      Besides those things, hasn't CCD also been linked to the recent proliferation of digital image sensors?

      (sorry, couldn't resist)

    • by rahvin112 ( 446269 ) on Friday April 24, 2015 @10:33PM (#49549331)

      CCD is likely a multifactor agent. This is the reason it's been so hard to determine. I saw a discussion with bee keepers and the collapse goes like this.

      The bees are fine all summer. When they seal up the nest for the winter and begin to subsist on the remaining stored honey (from what the humans didn't take) somewhere in the middle of the winter the bees start flying off and not coming back. At some point after this has begun the queen dies and no new queen is hatched. (new queens can be hatched easily by feeding one of the larva royal jelly). It's like the bee's suddenly go insane, most fly off into the wild and die, those meant to keep the hive going stop working (such as hatching new queens) and in no time at all the hive is dead.

      They are having a hard time determining cause because their is no clear cause. The insanity thing is a totally new action that's never been observed in bee populations before, outside the wasps that lay larval in other insects brains. So they are examining multiple possible paths at the same time trying to figure out what is causing this bee insanity that's causing the collapse. Neonictids are suspects because they are potent CNS actors in some species, something that could explain the insanity. But it could just as easily be that the neonictids aren't the sole cause, they could be weakening the bees such that they are starving to death in the winter, or there could be a fungus that's attacking them while they are weakened.

      Once they understand better how bee's react to neonictids and perform some controlled experiments with them they will have a better idea if they are the cause or related to it. There is reasonable concern here that the risk of the neonictids isn't worth the benefit's they provide. A collapse of bee's would be catastrophic to plant life. It's not just honey bees that are dieing either, reports are bumblebee's and other species of bee are dieing off as well. There is a real concern right now that there may be whole species of bees that are gone.

      • by Rei ( 128717 )

        Yep. It's wierd because the symptoms can correspond with many different causes. For example, the climate change thing makes sense because bees can be tricked into thinking it's spring and start foraging or even swarming in the middle of winter when they really should stay in the winter cluster. The occasional warm day is good for them to be able to get out and void themselves, but longer periods of significantly fluctuating weather can be bad.

        But it also matches other problems. Diseased or dying hives often

      • by Reziac ( 43301 ) *

        Actually there's a pretty good trail being laid down:

        http://missoulian.com/news/loc... [missoulian.com]

        Not only that, but per this article (with stats), bee populations are stable to increasing despite CCD:

        http://www.perc.org/articles/e... [perc.org]

        The amount of honey being produced is a good indicator, given you can't make honey without bees.

        This won't load for me but I imagine it goes into more detail:
        http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/br/... [usda.gov]

        And actually, you can demonstrate 'insanity' in any wild colony with an aging queen -- the bees bec

        • The number of colonies isn't a good read, nor the amount of honey being produced for one simple reason. The beekeepers are doing everything they can to keep production level. They are producing new colonies at a breakneck pace. I've been told they've never produced this many colonies ever, the honey producers are literally replacing their entire stock of bees almost every year.

          What's happening is pretty scary. It's being played up from both sides, the total freak out on the environmental side and the people

          • by Reziac ( 43301 ) *

            Honeybees are technically an invasive species in North America; they were imported, not native. There are numerous other species, including small native bees, that did the pollination work before honeybees came along. Far as I have heard, populations of these native bees have not been affected by CCD.

            Neonicotinoids are relatively expensive (4 years ago, Imidacloprid was $25/pound, about 5x the cost of permethins), and I'd guess despite being about a quarter of the insecticide market, that in ag they are pro

            • by sjames ( 1099 )

              It's not just in agriculture though. It's hard to find decorative plants that haven't been treated with it.

              • by Reziac ( 43301 ) *

                "Neonicotinoids in bees: a review on concentrations, side-effects and risk assessment"
                http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pm... [nih.gov]

                "Many lethal and sublethal effects of neonicotinoid insecticides on bees have been described in laboratory studies, however, no effects were observed in field studies with field-realistic dosages."

                As they say there's need for further study regarding synergistic effects and the like. But real exposure effects in the field are what counts, not just laboratory findings. Otherwise it's like fin

                • by sjames ( 1099 )

                  Sure, but part of that is recognizing the extent of the real world exposure.Imagining it to be limited to a small portion of farmland is not realistic.

                  • by Reziac ( 43301 ) *

                    Well, yes it is, since it doesn't have an infinite half-life and doesn't move around by itself. You're certainly not going to find it used in Montana wheatfields, yet CCD has affected bees here as well... so now what to blame?? Indeed, most of our acreage is never treated with anything, being non-arable grazing land or wilderness. Hasn't helped bees any.

                    I'd guess in addition to the viral and fungal agents that when they occur together have been determined as CCD causes already, there might be a genetic susc

                    • by sjames ( 1099 )

                      Apparently, wheat growers do [growinggeorgia.com] use neonics. Note that one way to use them is to pre-treat seed. The pesticide will persist in the plant for some time after.

                    • by Reziac ( 43301 ) *

                      But Georgia isn't everywhere, and wheat isn't a bee-pollinated crop.

                      The relevant thing is that bees are affected without ever being anywhere near a treated area, in fact without being near an area treated for anything at all.

                    • by sjames ( 1099 )

                      The website was for a Georgia group, but the article was about a national group.

                      Pine trees aren't pollinated by me either, but I can't go outside in the spring without ending up covered in pine pollen (presumably grass pollens as well, but I can't see those).

                      That leaves your relevant thing highly questionable. A re-analysis is in order.

                    • by Reziac ( 43301 ) *

                      Airborne particulates is a false equivalency.

                      I get the feeling you won't be happy until everyone admits your particular point of interest is the culprit, which isn't exactly a scientific method either. It's fine to look at every possible candidate. It's not fine to decide that's the culprit when it's not even present in many regions of interest.

                      Also, if neonics are the culprit, that should be very easy to demonstrate -- you should be able to reliably induce CCD in fairly short order just by isolating a hive

                    • by sjames ( 1099 )

                      Actually, I am just not willing to rule it out based on patent falsehoods. Whatever the answer, it won't be found by sweeping facts under the rug.

                      I get the impression that you'll convince yourself to believe nearly anything (even that nobody much uses neonics anyway) to 'debunk" an inconvenient hypothesis before it is even tested.

                      I note that you spoke of the "lack of neonic use on wheat" supporting your conclusion like it carried the weight of God's own word. As soon as I debunked that belief, it was sudden

                    • by Reziac ( 43301 ) *

                      I'll take the validity of research at my alma mater above most anything else, because I know the quality of the research departments.

                    • by sjames ( 1099 )

                      Perhaps then, you should present that research as an argument rather than false claims about lack of neonic use on wheat. A shame you didn't.

                    • by Reziac ( 43301 ) *

                      I did; I posted a link to it upstairs somewhere. Shame you didn't read it.

                    • by sjames ( 1099 )

                      I may well have, but not knowing where you went to school, how would I know what you're talking about?

                    • by Reziac ( 43301 ) *

                      The link went to an article which mentioned research on CCD done at Montana State U (where I was once upon a time a biochemistry/microbiology double major) and U of MT. Didn't find a link to the actual paper offhand but didn't look that hard either; no doubt you can find it.

                    • by sjames ( 1099 )

                      I read the article. They have found what they believe may be *A* cause. They make no claim that it is *THE* cause nor do they claim to have fully characterized the contributing factors.

                      It is good research and may hold important answers but you seem to be reading more into it than the actual researchers are.

      • Maybe in the Winter they are jonesing for a fix that they leave to find it despite it being winter, and as a result die. Due to all the bees leaving, the hive becomes unsustainable. It could also be that I think bees also provide warmth, if enough leave the rest just freeze to death.

        Drug users from an external observation point of view do all sorts of crazy things to try and get their next fix, particularly when their supply or their ability to get it (money) runs out. Could be as simple as that.

  • by careysub ( 976506 ) on Friday April 24, 2015 @07:23PM (#49548637)

    The EU banned three neonicotinoids that are judged especially high risk for bees 17 months ago. If this is causing/contributing to colony collapse disorder, evidence should start settling this question over the next year or two I would think.

  • by adolf ( 21054 ) <flodadolf@gmail.com> on Friday April 24, 2015 @07:58PM (#49548801) Journal

    So that's why I see bumble bees trying really goddamn hard to try to crawl inside of the little blossoms on my pepper plants* that they totally don't fit inside of at all.

    It reminds me of myself, shaking down the couch for change for tobacco money before ATMs and credit cards became commonplace. Or rather, groping for the cigarette at the bottom of the recliner that I can see with a flashlight, but can't reach at all without looking like a monkey fucking a football and even then it isn't easy.

    Or, as Rammstein said, "like an elephant in the eye of the needle." Whatever, you get my point.

    *: Pepper plants, as all nightshades, produce nicotine in their foliage and presumably their flowers.

  • Why bees tend to hang around right outside the doors of office buildings.

  • Dateline 2015: Scientists finally decode honeybee "dance" language. First message recorded:

    "Man, I'm really jonesing for some of that nicotine-laced nectar. Can you watch the hive for a bit while I take a break? I'm gettin' the shakes."

  • They develop pesticides that wipe out the required beneficial insects world wide, why are their executives not in chains?

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