Radar Antennae Reveal How Disease and Pesticides Are Harming Bees Navigation

 The Telegraph  By Richard Gray  7/28/13

Honey bees are being fitted with tiny radar antennae to find how disease and pesticides are effecting the insects as they hunt for food.

The work is being pioneered by biologists at Rothamsted Research, the government funded crop research site in Hertfordshire, and scientists in Germany.

Using lightweight radar transponders less than an inch long that are glued onto the backs of honey bees, the researchers have been able to accurately track the flight paths taken by individual honey bees.

However the researchers have found that the insects, which have suffered dramatic declines over the past 25 years, become disorientated and have trouble navigating when exposed to controversial pesticides called neonicotinoids.

Tests show bees that have eaten syrup contaminated with the pesticides are unable to use their memory of landmarks in their surroundings to find their way back to their hives, flying in random circles rather than straight lines.

Professor Randolf Menzel, an insect neurobiologist at the Free University in Berlin, who has led the work, has found that bees use two types of memory to navigate – a kind of automatic pilot or “vector memory” and their memory of the landscape, which they form during...

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