A pest-killing agent has a negative effect on bee sperm count. It is a common pesticide and it is harming the sperm count of bees.
A very common insecticide is causing the sperm quality of male drone bees to undergo degradation. This may be why bee populations are being slashed throughout the world.
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Termed neonicotinoids, these pesticides don’t actually kill the drones. However, bees that have been exposed to such an insecticide tend to produce 39% less live sperm than those bees which have managed to escape the ravaging effects of this pest-killing agent.
Experiments were carried out on these bees and the results spoke volumes about the deleterious effects of this pesticide. It acted as a contraceptive and sperm retardant on the male drone bees. These male drone bees mainly mate with the queen bee.
The insecticide makes reproduction a tough job to accomplish. Drones don’t gather nectar nor do they sting. They are the product of unfertilized eggs. Normally, they die after mating with the queen having sacrificed their lives for the continuity of the lineage of bees from the queen bee.
Those drones that ate pollen that was treated with insecticide as well as those that didn’t engage in such behavior both had the same amount of sperm. When the sperm was placed beneath the microscope, there were differences though.
Those bees which were not subjected to pesticide-treated pollen had 1.98 million living sperm. Those with neonicotinoids in their food had about 1.2 million living sperm.
While there was a scarcity of living sperm, that didn’t mean that sperm was not available. Only its quality had been reduced. The main question was whether the amount of living sperm left behind was enough to impregnate the queen bee.
Yet the effect was clear for all to see. The failure of the queen bees was thus linked with the sperm count deficiency in male drone bees. One thing which is for sure is the fact that it is not the queen bees which are responsible for this slashing in bee populations.
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The queen’s failure is tied up with the low sperm counts of the male drone bees. A number of problems including mites, parasites, maladies, insecticides and nutritional deficiencies seem to play a role in the dwindling populations of bees. It is not any one factor alone which is responsible for the crisis.