Honeybee colonies could be saved from collapse

Honeybee colonies could be saved from collapse in the future thanks to a microscopic particle that attracts pesticides, as created by Washington State University (WSU) researchers.

Ordinarily, pollen tinged with tiny amounts of pesticides accumulates in a bee’s body over time, reducing the lifespan of each bee in a colony. But the new nanoparticles enter the bees during feeding and spend a few hours in the bees’ digestive system collecting pesticide residue. Then the nanoparticle exits the bee and takes the residue with it. It takes only 15 nanograms of pesticide to kill a bee.

“The material acts as a magnetic micro-sponge that absorbs ingested toxic residues,” said Waled Suliman, a postdoctoral research associate in WSU’s Department of Biological Systems Engineering.

The product, a powder, can be incorporated into a sugar solution that’s fed to bee colonies. Each microparticle is the size and shape of a grain of pollen, making them easily digestible for bees. And they’re specially designed and formulated to be safe for beekeepers to handle.

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