Scientists discovered that a common insecticide affects the sleep cycle of bees
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Because bees play an important role in pollinating many of the crop varieties we eat , So a healthy number of bees is vital to global food security. In 2016, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service added seven species of bees to the endangered list for the first time to protect the fragile and shrinking populations.
Pesticides are one of the most important driving forces leading to this trend, and the core of the problem is a kind of insecticide called neonicotinoids. The European Union banned the use of this pesticide in 2016, but it is still used all over the world. These pesticides are applied to crops to protect the growing plants from other small animals, but these chemicals interfere with the energy-producing molecules of bees, making them immobile and starving.
Scientists from the University of Bristol This new work further studies the effects of neonicotinoids on honeybees. Researchers placed the bumblebees at a concentration equivalent to the pesticides they endured on the farm and found that this caused significant disturbances in their natural sleep cycle.
Affected bees were found to be more active at night and sleep more during the day. This in turn affects the daily behavior of insects and their memory, reducing their foraging activities and locomotion. Researchers believe that this may reduce the chance of pollination, which in turn reduces the growth and reproduction of the insect population.
“Being able to tell time is important to know when to wake up and foraging. It seems that insects affected by pesticides cannot sleep,” said research co-author Dr. James Hodge. “We know that high-quality sleep is important to insects, just as it is to humans, it is important to their health and the formation of lasting memories.”
Researchers also conducted experiments on fruit flies and found that the effects of exposure to neonicotinoid insecticides were similar.
“The brains of bees and flies have similar structures, which shows that one of the reasons these pesticides are so unfavorable to bees is that they prevent bees from sleeping normally, and then they can understand the location of food in the environment.” Author Dr. Sean Rands said.
Research involving honeybees is published in the journal iScience, while research involving fruit flies is published in the journal Science Reports.