Neonicotinoids (a pesticide) makes bees sleep in the day

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Bee covered in pollen

Neonicotinoids used in pesticides makes bees sleep in the day and it makes them go out at night when flowers are not open to be pollinated. Bees are a major and critical pollinator. The numbers have declined significantly. The reason? Habitat loss, climate change, greater vulnerablility to disease, parasites and pesticide use such as the one mentioned.

Bee covered in pollen

Bee covered in pollen. Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay

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Neonicotinoids had been largely banned under European Union regulations but the UK government allows its use on sugar beet. Research at Bristol University, published in Scientific Reports and iScience has found that this pesticide disrupts the circadian rhythms of honeybees and their sleep. The chemical also makes it harder for bees to sleep thus reducing their total amount of sleep and the number of sleep sessions.

Individual and average actogram activity graph [an activity graph] profiles show that honey bees that ingested neonicotinoids delayed termination of their active period well into the dark phase following lights off, and increased their activity at night. – study author of Neonicotinoids disrupt circadian rhythms and sleep in honey bees.

The Independent newspaper tells me that this pesticide can kill bees. The UK government had pledged to restrict its use. Following lobbying by the National Farmers’ Union and British Sugar a pesticide containing neonicotinoid thiamethoxam was allowed for emergency use on sugar beet seeds in 2021 because of a threat by a virus.

It is seen as a regressive step by the chief executive of Buglife an invertebrate conservation group. They believe that the pesticide would destroy wildflowers and add to an “onslaught” on insects currently suffered by them. Further, there’s been no action to prevent pollution of rivers with insecticides sprayed onto sugar beet. Nothing has changed since 2018, so environmental damage continues without intervention by the government.

Defra said that emergency authorisations such as this are only granted in exceptional circumstances where the disease or pest can’t be controlled in any other way by reasonable means. They also said that “protecting pollinators is a priority for this government”. Comment: that doesn’t seem to be the case does it? It looks as though lobbying by a big company has undermined conservation of the bee and there is a pressing need to protect the bee because of declines in numbers for the reasons mentioned and the bee’s restricted ability to pollinate because of neonicotinoids which continues to be authorised.