Publish BBC News, March 27, 2013
Commonly used pesticides are damaging honey bee brains, studies suggest.
Scientists have found that two types of chemicals called neonicotinoids and coumaphos are interfering with the insect’s ability to learn and remember.
Experiments revealed that exposure was also lowering brain activity, especially when the two pesticides were used in combination.
But a company that makes the substances said laboratory-based studies did not always apply to bees in the wild.
And another report, published by the Defra’s Food and Environment Research Agency (Fera), concluded that there was no link between bee health and exposure to neonicotinoids.
The government agency carried out a study looking at bumblebees living on the edges of fields treated with the chemicals.
Honey bees around the world are facing an uncertain future.
They have been hit with a host of diseases, losses of habitat, and in the US the mysterious Colony Collapse Disorder has caused numbers to plummet.
To investigate, scientists looked at two common pesticides: neonicotinoids, which are used to control pests on oil seed rape and other crops, and a group of organophosphate chemicals called coumaphos, which are used to kill the Varroa mite, a parasite that attacks the honey bee.
Neonicotinoids are used more commonly in Europe, while coumaphos are more often employed in the United States.