Insecticides can reduce bee fertility, causing lasting harm across generations
Even a single application of a common neonicotinoid pesticide can harm exposed bees and their offspring.
The blue orchard bee is a busy friend of fruit trees, pollinating apples, cherries, almonds, peaches, and many other popular crops. They also pollinate many flowering plants native to the United States.
About the size of a honeybee, they’re nevertheless quite different, with a bluish metallic sheen, solitary lifestyle, and a preference to carry pollen on the hairs of their stomachs, rather than on their legs.
These bees, like many pollinators, are both vital for agriculture and extremely vulnerable to a class of pesticides called neonicotinoids, or neonics.
Now new research shows that one of the most widely used agricultural chemicals, a neonic called imidacloprid, does not just harm blue orchard bees immediately, but has negative effects that can be seen across generations.