Why the world’s bees are dying: They’re stressed out

Quartz

Scientists have struggled for years to pinpoint the cause of the global crash in bee populations, an affliction known as Colony Collapse Disorder. Everything from pesticides to poor nutrition to automotive exhaust has been blamed for the apian apocalypse. But if British scientists are right, bees that pollinate much of the world’s crops are dying because they’re stressed out.

A ground-breaking new study by researchers at the Royal Holloway University of London investigated the impact of non-lethal doses of agricultural pesticides on the social organization of bumble bee colonies. If correct, the findings go a long way to explaining why exposure to pesticides can prove fatal to beehives if not to individual bees.

“Social bee colonies depend on the efficient cooperative performance of multiple individual workers so that essential tasks like foraging, thermoregulation and brood care, sustain and enhance overall colony function,” they wrote. “They have many workers and are…

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