Fewer bees due to pesticide use

Bees are essential for the pollination of many crops and wild plants, playing a crucial role in biodiversity and food security. However, bee populations have declined significantly in recent decades due to several factors, among which pesticides play a key role.

Impact of Pesticides on Bees

  • Neonicotinoids: These pesticides are especially harmful to bees. They act on the nervous system of insects, causing paralysis and death. Even at low concentrations, neonicotinoids can affect the memory, navigational ability and foraging behaviour of bees, reducing their ability to gather food and return to the hive.
  • Glyphosate: This herbicide, widely used in agriculture, has been linked to altering the gut microbiota of bees, weakening their immune system and making them more susceptible to disease.
  • Combination of pesticides: Often, bees are exposed to a mixture of different pesticides, which can have synergistic effects that increase their toxicity. These combinations can be more harmful than individual pesticides, affecting multiple aspects of bee health.

Specific Effects of Pesticides

  • Direct mortality: direct exposure to pesticides during crop application can result in immediate death of bees.
  • Disorientation and loss of navigational ability: pesticides can interfere with the ability of bees to find their way back to their hive, resulting in a decline in the hive population.
  • Reduced reproduction rate: pesticides can affect the reproductive ability of queen bees, leading to less healthy and fewer hives.
  • Susceptibility to diseases and parasites: exposure to pesticides can weaken the immune system of bees, making them more vulnerable to diseases and parasites such as the Varroa mite.

Measures to Protect Bees

  • Pesticide regulation: it is crucial to implement and strengthen regulations on the use of harmful pesticides, especially neonicotinoids. Some countries have already taken steps to restrict their use.
  • Sustainable agricultural practices: encourage the use of agricultural methods that reduce reliance on pesticides, such as organic farming and integrated pest management.
  • Creating favourable habitats: providing safe, flower-rich habitats for bees can help mitigate the negative effects of pesticides. This includes creating pollinator corridors and protecting wilderness areas.
  • Research and education: promote research on alternatives to pesticides and educate farmers and the public about the importance of bees and practices that can protect them.

Protecting bees is fundamental to maintaining biodiversity and ensuring global food security. Taking measures to reduce the impact of pesticides on these important pollinators is a crucial step in this direction. Natural fumigants proposed by LIFE NextFUMIGREEN can be a viable and safer alternative to chemical pesticides. Implementing bee-friendly agricultural practices helps maintain ecosystem health and long-term agricultural productivity.

The European project LIFE NextFUMIGREEN actively promotes food safety by developing natural fumigants from plant extracts to control pests in intensive horticultural crops under glass. With the leadership of Fumihogar and with the collaboration of the Foundation for Agricultural Auxiliary Technologies, the Finnova FoundationB&B Asesores Auditores AmbientalesComercial Quimica Masso and BrioAgro Tech, the project has a total budget of 2,758,921.01 €, 60% subsidised by the LIFE Programme.


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