Lead pollution, even at very low levels, affects bee learning

06 May 2021 par webmaster
Environmental pollutants have many deleterious effects on biodiversity, even at very low doses. Heavy metals are no exception. In this study published in the journal Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety, scientists exposed honey bee hives to low doses of lead found in the environment, and demonstrated their impacts on the morphological development of workers and their learning and memory capacities.
© Coline Monchanin

For the past 30 years, agrochemicals have been identified as important causes of pollinator decline. However, the impacts of other equally widespread pollutants, such as heavy metals, have received much less attention. These metal compounds occur naturally in the environment, but their use in industry, agriculture, and domestic applications has significantly elevated their concentrations in soil, water, air, and plants. Lead is of particular concern on a global scale and raises many public health issues related to lead poisoning and certain cancers. Despite the ubiquity of heavy metals in the environment, little or nothing is known about their effects on pollinating insects.

To test these potential effects, the researchers fed hives of honeybees nectar containing lead at low concentrations (below the European regulatory thresholds for the environment) for 10 weeks.

Read more on the INSB website


Reference :

Chronic exposure to trace lead impairs honey bee learning.

Monchanin C, Blanc-Brude A, Drujont E, Negahi MM, Pasquaretta C, Silvestre J, Baqué D, Elger A, Barron AB, Devaud JM, Lihoreau M.

Ecotoxicol Environ Saf. 2021 Apr 1;212:112008. doi: 10.1016/j.ecoenv.2021.112008. 

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