Iowa State University 1/30/14
AMES, Iowa – Last spring, when Mary Harris started looking for particular pesticides in the pollen carried by honey bees in northwest Iowa, she didn’t find any. But that changed the week tractors hit the fields to plant crops.
That week, every pollen sample she took tested positive for the presence of neonicotinoids, pesticides often used to coat seeds before they’re planted.
Harris, an Iowa State University adjunct assistant professor of natural resource ecology and management, was part of a research team formed by the nonprofit Pollinator Partnership to monitor the level of neonicotinoid pesticides found in plant pollen collected by honey bees. The research, released on Thursday, indicates that the pesticides also contaminate nearby plants that are visited by a range of helpful pollinating insects.
Harris’s effort to study pesticides is one thread in a patchwork of research at Iowa State to identify the factors that have led to steep declines in the populations of pollinating insects in Iowa and...