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Science News Staff

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Neonicotinoids are partial contraceptives for male honeybees

Common pesticides reduce amount of living sperm in test

Male honeybees (a Carniolan honeybee shown) produce less live sperm if they’re raised on pollen tainted with neonicotinoids, a new study shows. 

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Pollen tainted with neonicotinoid pesticides could interfere with male honeybee reproduction, a new study finds.

After bee colonies fed on pollen spiked with the pesticides thiamethoxam and clothianidin, male bees, or drones, produced almost 40 percent fewer living sperm than did males from colonies fed clean pollen, researchers report July 27 in Proceedings of the Royal Society B. The concentrations of the pesticides, 4.5 parts per billion and 1.5 parts per billion, respectively, were in the range of what free-living bees encounter when foraging around crops, study coauthor Lars Straub of the University of Bern, Switzerland, says.

Pollinator conservationists have raised concerns that chronic exposure to neonicotinoids widely used on crops is inadvertently weakening honeybee colonies working the fields. The amount of sperm males produce might affect how well a colony sustains itself because young queens mate (with about 15 males on average) during one or two early frenzies and then depend on that stored sperm for the rest of their egg-laying years. The new study is the first to examine neonicotinoid effects on honeybee sperm, Straub says.

Science News reporters answer your questions about aging

By Science News Staff 12:36pm, July 26, 2016
Three Science News reporters will answer questions related to a special issue on aging in a Reddit AMA on Tuesday, July 26, at 3 p.m. EDT.
Animals,, Health,, Science & Society

Getting rid of snails is effective at stopping snail fever

By Amy McDermott 2:00pm, July 21, 2016
For the tropical disease snail fever, managing host populations is more effective than drugs.
Particle Physics,, Cosmology,, Physics

Latest search for dark matter comes up empty

By Emily Conover 4:30am, July 21, 2016
Scientists continue to come up empty-handed in the search for dark matter. The latest effort from the LUX experiment found no evidence for dark matter.
Animals,, Ecology

Some primates prefer nectar with a bigger alcohol kick

By Helen Thompson 2:00pm, July 20, 2016
Aye-ayes and slow lorises may be able to discern the alcohol content of boozy nectar and go for more potent drinks.
Planetary Science

40 years ago, Viking 1 pioneered U.S. exploration on Mars

By Christopher Crockett 7:00am, July 20, 2016
Forty years ago, Viking 1 became the first U.S. mission to land safely on the surface of Mars.
Cancer,, Health

IVF doesn’t up long-term breast cancer risk, study says

By Helen Thompson 11:38am, July 19, 2016
A Dutch study of more than 25,000 women over two decades suggests that IVF-treated women are no more likely to get breast cancer than other women.

First case of woman-to-man spread of Zika via sex reported

By Meghan Rosen 11:33am, July 15, 2016
The first known case of female-to-male sexual transmission of Zika virus has been reported in New York City.

Risk of travelers to Olympics sparking new Zika outbreaks low

By Meghan Rosen 12:26pm, July 13, 2016
Just four countries — Chad, Djibouti, Eritrea and Yemen — bear a substantial risk of bringing Zika virus home from the Olympics and having it spread, the CDC says.
Animals,, Evolution

How snails breathe through snorkels on land

By Susan Milius 7:05pm, July 12, 2016
Shells with a tube counterintuitively sealed at the end have hidden ways to let Asian snails snorkel while sealed in their shells.
Planetary Science

New dwarf planet discovered lurking beyond Neptune

By Christopher Crockett 5:30pm, July 12, 2016
Newly discovered dwarf planet 2015 RR245 takes about 700 years to orbit the sun and lives among the icy boulders of the Kuiper belt.
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