You may not realize it, but bees are an important part of today’s agriculture world. These insects pollinate many of the fruits and vegetables that we eat and they also pollinate many of the foods that animals eat. In addition, the wax and honey that bees make are also highly used.
A few other statistics about the benefits of bees:
- Bees pollinate 80% of all flowering plants and 75% of fruits, nuts, and vegetables grown in the U.S.
- Without bees, we wouldn’t be able to grow almonds.
- Bees produce $150 million of honey every year in the U.S.
- One bee colony can pollinate 300 million flowers in a day.
- Avocados, apples, cherries, cucumbers, kiwis, and melons are all highly dependent on bee pollination.
Unfortunately, bees are disappearing at an alarming rate and one of the reasons why is pesticides. Bees pollinate more than 70 types of crops, but when these crops are sprayed with pesticides to keep other pests away, they also end up affecting bees.
The good news that our South Carolina pest control company has learned is that researchers at Michigan State University’s entomology department are working on a way to continue the use of pesticides without harming the bee population. The idea is to be able to protect crops from decimating insects and/or animals while allowing beneficial insects like bees go unharmed.
The work involves the pesticide pyrethroid, which targets the sodium channels in the nerve and muscle cells of insects. Once the insect is exposed, these channels are held open by the pesticide, which sends the bug’s nervous system into overdrive and causes them to die.
Bees are highly sensitive to most pyrethroids, but they have actually shown a natural resistance to one called tau-fluvalinate. Tau-fluvalinate is already used to control agricultural pests, but scientists hope to leverage this trait to develop more advanced and selective pesticides.
A Hopeful Future
By studying other insects that are sensitive to or have developed a resistance to pyrethroids, researchers have discovered specific amino acid residues in the sodium channels of bees that make them resistant to tau-flauvinate. This means we may be able to develop new chemicals that target the sodium channels of harmful pests, but spare bees.
If this type of pesticide is possible, bees will have a good future to look forward to. And at our South Carolina pest control company, that sounds pretty good to us.