BOGOTA, 12 Oct 2021:
With millions of beehives dying from pesticide poisoning across the world every year, Colombian scientists have sought to save these insects – which are vital to humans as one-third of the crops consumed require bee pollination.
Researchers at the Faculty of Natural Sciences in Bogota’s Rosario University have developed a superfood that protects bees from the negative effects of the toxins in pesticides.
The supplement, which can be administered in liquid or solid form, is deposited in places near hives where bees look for pollen.
“Our results show that nutritional supplementation protects the capacities of learning and memory, motor control and sensory sensitivity of bees,” explained Andre Riveros, an associate professor at the university’s Biology Department.
Riveros said the patent-protected product keeps bees safe from experiencing pesticide-induced physiological and behavioural changes.
The scientists have focused their research on honey bees (Apis mellifera) and bumblebees (Bombus impatiens), which are the world’s most important pollinators, added Riveros.
For the sake of the research, Rosario University built an apiary in 2020 at its headquarters using bamboo plants in the structure.
“The established apiary is a sample of our coherence in the search for ways to protect bees,” Riveros explained.
The next step is to transfer the achieved knowledge so that investors can develop the product for it to go on the market, said the biologist.
“The goal is to achieve an alternative within the reach of beekeepers that recognises the challenges faced by farmers and that can be meshed with other strategies to protect bees.”
He stressed the decline in pollinators would negatively affect not only the quantity but also the quality and diversity of foods.
Although pesticides are necessary to protect crops from pests, Riveros noted they result in fatal consequences on pollinators such as trembling, memory problems, and compromised immune systems.