We all know how important bees are to the planet's ecosystem, so finding out where problems are likely to arise is key to their protection. Pesticides known as pyrethroids are among the main culprits behind colony collapses but, happily, scientists in Ontario have now discovered a way to ascertain where they are used and then put a stop to it.
Detecting whether honey bees have been exposed to pyrethroids is vital for protecting these hugely important pollinators. However, tracking down these bee-unfriendly pesticides has been, until now, very difficult.
Happily, scientists at Canada's University of Waterloo have developed a fully automated and environmentally-friendly process to extract pyrethroids from samples of honey - making it easier than ever to detect and quantify these harmful chemicals in time to help prevent colonies from collapsing.
Their innovation involves adding a small amount of alcohol to honey, which dissolves any pyrethroids that may be suspended within it. Once that’s done, a technique called solid-phase micro-extraction is then used to quickly and effortlessly extract the pesticides. This, in turn, allowed scientists to verify their presence and measure their concentration.
“It is our hope that this very simple method will help authorities determine where these pesticides are in use at unsafe levels to ultimately help protect the honeybee population,” said the lead study author, Prof. Janusz Pawliszyn.
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