Multiple stressors and bee health
Wild bees are ecologically and economically critical pollinators, who not only enhance the pollination services of honeybees, but who are also capable of more effectively pollinating certain crops. In light of their value to food security, recent declines of wild bees are a major agricultural concern. Disruptions to the nutritional resources available to bees are a potential driver of these declines. Besides direct impacts on growth and survival, nutrition likely also has interactive effects, given its role in mediating responses to other stressors. Funded by a USDA-NIFA grant, we are exploring interactions between bee nutrition and neonicotinoids, the most popular class of systemic pesticides, found in the nectar and pollen of crops, horticultural plants, and wildflowers. Combining behavioral and phsyiological approaches, we’re studying how these pesticides affect bees’ ability to sense and regulate intake of different resources in relation to nutritional need.