Bumblebee biologist Dave Goulson might be the pesticide industry’s worst enemy — and therefore a bee’s best friend. A professor at Scotland’s University of Stirling, he was part of the team whose 2012 Science paper called out the effects of neonicotinoid pesticides, which pose a considerable threat to fauna large and small. They’ve proven especially lethal to bees.
Exposure to the chemicals reduces the production of queen bees and thus reduces a colony’s chances of surviving the winter (queens are the only bees alive in that season, and they birth a new team of workers when spring arrives). Bumblebees, like honeybees, are critically important to modern agriculture, pollinating everything from canola to watermelon, but their population throughout most of the world has plummeted in recent years.
The ideas pollinated by Goulson and other neonicotinoid researchers recently bore fruit, in the form of a two-year partial ban on the pesticides by the European Union. Having recently released A Sting in the Tale, an autobiographical history of his own research, Goulson s... Read more