Strawberries were smaller when bees ingested pesticides - Lund University

three ripe strawberries hanging from a plnt, unripe berries and flowers are also visible behind adn to one side
Strawberries (photo: Oliver Hale)

Solitary bees that ingested the pesticide clothianidin when foraging from rapeseed flowers became slower. In addition, the strawberries pollinated by these bees were smaller. This is shown by a new study from Lund University in Sweden.

Strawberries are known to become bigger if bees have visited their flowers, but how strawberry growth is affected if the bees have been exposed to neonicotinoid insecticides has so far been unclear. In a new study published in PLOS ONE, a Swedish research team has made two discoveries.

“We studied bees that ingested clothianidin, a pesticide that was previously used in rapeseed to control flea beetles. Our study indicates that the substance made the bees slower and impaired their ability to pollinate the strawberry flowers”, says Lina Herbertsson, biology researcher at Lund University.

“Previous studies have shown that clothianidin affects wild bees negatively in terms of foraging speed, development and reproduction. Our results indicate that it can also impair the bees' ability to pollinate strawberry flowers”, says Lina Herbertsson.

She emphasizes the importance of interpreting the results with some cautiousness. “In our study, we did not identify the cause for the lower strawberry weight, and after only having performed a single study under rather special circumstances, we also don't know if this is a general pattern”, Lina Herbertsson says.

Access the paper: Seed-coating of rapeseed (Brassica napus) with the neonicotinoid clothianidin affects behaviour of red mason bees (Osmia bicornis) and pollination of strawberry flowers (Fragaria × ananassa)

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Posted On: 16/09/2022

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