News / Science & Technology

Spider Venom Could Produce Bee-Safe Pesticide

FILE - Researchers have created what they're calling a 'bee-safe' pesticide. (Photo: Adam Vanbergen)
FILE - Researchers have created what they're calling a 'bee-safe' pesticide. (Photo: Adam Vanbergen)

Related Articles

Honeybees Might be Spreading Disease to Wild Bumblebees

Both get pollen from the same flowers and crops, which is how they come into contact

Video Biologist Creates Portrait Gallery of North American Bees

Mysterious phenomenon known as Colony Collapse Disorder is devastating global honeybee populations, and conservationists say some of North America's 4,000 bee species could be wiped out

Diesel Exhaust Disrupts Bee's Sense of Smell

Study finds air pollution affects honeybees, which play a critical role in producing world's food crops
A new pesticide using spider venom and plant protein could be a valuable tool in stemming the collapse of honeybee populations.
 
Researchers at Newcastle University in England developed the pesticide using the venom of an Australian funnel web spider and snowdrop lectin.
 
The researchers fed “acute and chronic doses” of the pesticide to bees and found it only had a “very slight effect on the bees’ survival and no measurable effect at all on their learning and memory.”
 
Bee colony collapse is a phenomenon in which masses of bees never find their way back to the hive.
 
In the United States, beekeepers have been reporting for the past eight years that around 30 percent of managed honey bee colonies in the U.S. died, although the most recent survey for colony loss from 2013 to 2014 had slowed to just over 23 percent.
 
Bees perform the vital task of pollination, a process needed for up to one-third of the world’s crops.
 
The role commonly-used pesticides play in bee colony collapse is not completely understood, as other factors like parasites, weather changes and malnutrition due to a decrease in forage plants all may contribute to collapse.
 
A study earlier this year found that sublethal exposure to neonicotinoids, a substance found in many pesticides, led to colony collapse. The study was attacked by pesticide manufacturers.
 
“There is now substantial evidence linking neonicotinoid pesticides to poor performance and survival in bees,” said Angharad Gatehouse of Newcastle University’s biology department who was involved in developing the pesticide in a statement.
 
Her colleague Geraldine Wright, one of the paper’s authors, led the research last year highlighting “the damaging effect of neonicotinoids on bees’ ability to learn and remember and subsequently communicate to their hive mates.”
 
Jeff Pettis who heads the federal government’s bee research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, told the New York Times that colony collapse was a “complicated story,” adding that many factors determine colony health.
 
The Newcastle University team said that the new pesticide works differently from other types in that it does not appear to affect the mechanisms involved in bees’ learning and memory.
 
Newcastle University researchers exposed the bees to varying concentrations of the spider/snowdrop pesticide over seven days, carrying out memory tests and noting changes in behavior.

“Our findings suggest that [the pesticide] is unlikely to cause any detrimental effects on honeybees,” said Gatehouse. “Previous studies have already shown that it is safe for higher animals, which means it has real potential as a pesticide and offers us a safe alternative to some of those currently on the market.”
 
Dennis vanEngelsdorp, the director of the Bee Informed Partnership, a group that studies bee health and management, called the new pesticide “very promising,” adding that “we certainly need more bee safe products.”
 
He added that how “bee-safe” products are tested needs revisiting.

“If we have learned anything it is we need to see if products become more lethal when in combination with other products,” he wrote in an email. “We also need to measure the possible effects products have on immune function. Case in point: Fungicides are not considered toxic to bees. But growing evidence shows that bees exposed to them are more likely to become infected with common bee diseases.”

You May Like

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

Video Secret Service Chief Under Fire for White House Security Breach

Julia Pierson faces tough questions from lawmakers after recent intrusion at White House, says: 'It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly' More

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

Thousands have volunteered to go to counties, rural villages to talk to people in their language about deadly virus More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: J. Griffith from: Lodi, CA
June 05, 2014 5:06 PM
The bee in the accompanying photo is not a bee. It's a hoverfly, which is part of the order Diptera (flies, mosquitoes) rather than Hymenoptera (ants, bees, wasps). It's easy to mistake for a bee or wasp, though, because it has evolved to look like a stinging insect to fool predators.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihadi
X
Mahi Ramakrishnan
September 30, 2014 2:16 PM
Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid