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Protecting Bees from Pesticides

Bees are the most critical pollinators that are responsible for pollinating almost 70% of the different crop that are cultivated to feed nearly 90% of the world . This means if there were no bees, we would lose all the plants that they pollinate, in turn lose the animals that feed on these plants and it would totally disrupt the food chain. Over the years the bee population has suffered as a result of the changes in farming techniques, increase in the levels of diseases and parasites and the use of pesticides to combat these diseases and pests.

It has been noted that pesticide use has affected bees more than it was previously thought. Agricultural use of “neonicotinoids” has over the years led to large scale extinction of the bee population.

However, there has been a constant endeavor and research to design bee-friendly insecticides. A joint study conducted by University of Exeter, Rothamsted Research and Bayer AG has been able to discover new methods by analyzing the enzymes in bees and bumble bees. These studies of the enzymes have helped them determine how sensitive they are to different types of “neonicotinoid” pesticides that are in use.

Enzymes Cytochrome P450s break down toxins in organisms and researchers have been able to identify a sub family of Cytochrome P450s called CYP9Q that was responsible for rapid breakdown of toxins from certain pesticides. Also analyzing the enzymes of the bees and bumble bees will help find how sensitive they are to different pesticides and if they can metabolize certain neonicotinoids.


By: Madhuchanda Saxena