So far in 2022, Bumblebees have had a mixed year. Despite the US Supreme Court’s decision to deem them to be fish, it has been found that they may experience pain. According to the findings of a recent study, a common herbicide can even harm people’s long-term memory and fine-color vision.
The type of pesticide most frequently used worldwide is a herbicide based on glyphosate. However, pollinators like bumblebees are necessary for almost 80% of blooming plant species and 35% of the most significant crops in the world. Scientists are currently investigating the impact of glyphosate on bumblebee vision after discovering that it has a negative impact on bee colonies’ ability to regulate their internal temperature.
The bumblebees (Bombus Terrestris) used in the experiment were treated with Roundup, a herbicide that contains glyphosate. Bees were given a 10-color discrimination exercise to see how the pesticide affected their memory and cognition. There were a total of 20 artificial flowers, two of each hue. The bees dislike a quinine-based solution, which the other five of those colors were connected with. Five of those colors were positively correlated with sweet, sugary food.
The control group quickly learned which colors were connected to the sugar reward and which weren’t throughout the course of five learning sessions, and they were even able to recall the color combinations three days later. In contrast, the group of bees exposed to Roundup before the job had a difficult time picking up on the colors of the reward flowers, and two days later, they had forgotten everything they had learned.
We concentrated on the cognitive characteristics of the bees since these characteristics are essential for successful foraging, social behavior, and fitness in social insects. I’m very concerned. Bumblebees were adversely affected by even a single, extremely modest acute dose, according to a statement from Associate Professor Marjo Helander of the University of Turku.
The bees remained unaffected when the researchers also used a two-color task that was simpler and a 10-type odor challenge. This implies that while glyphosate-based herbicide exposure may not render bees fully color-blind or impair their sense of smell, it does impact the bees’ ability to distinguish finer colors and their capacity for long-term memory. The survival of bumblebee colonies, individual fitness, and foraging rates are all severely harmed by this lack of fine-color vision.
The findings are rather concerning given how crucial color vision is for bumblebees. According to Docent Olli Loukola from the University of Oulu, even little changes in color vision can have disastrous effects on an animal’s ability to successfully forage and build a nest.