Members of a honey bee colony in Cuba.

Members of a honey bee colony in Cuba.
Photo: YAMIL LAGE/AFP (Getty Images)

In the 1970s, laboratory honey bees generally lived longer than a month. But now according to a new study Published According to scientific reports, laboratory-caught bees live only two weeks.

The halving of the lifespan of insects (from 34.3 days in the 1970s to 17.7 days in the 2010s) is the latest sign of concern for species that play a vital role in our environment. Honey bees are affected Great public loss In recent years.

The latest findings came as a team investigated how caged bees fared in different types of water (deionized, lightly salted, and tap). They found that giving the bees different types of water instead of sugar syrup increased the average lifespan of the animals. But in research that contributed to those findings, the team found a striking difference between the lifespan of modern honey bees and the lifespan recorded in the 1970s.

“We’re removing bees from the colony before they reach adulthood, so anything that shortens their lifespan is happening before that time,” said Anthony Nerman, an entomologist at the University of Maryland and lead author of the study. University Release.

Honey bees are an integral part of most ecosystems because of their role in pollination. Pollination helps plants disperse and reproduce and maintain population diversity. Now, maybe it’s the bees’ own lack of genetic diversity that hurts them.

“This introduces the idea of ​​a genetic component,” Nerman added. “If this hypothesis is correct, it also suggests a possible solution. If we can identify some genetic factors, maybe we can breed honey bees for a long time.

Honey-bees cups in the laboratory.

Bees are very useful for pollination, but they are insects They are being killed. Due to pesticides, habitat loss, disease and climate change related factors such as drought. The FDA has even developed three antibiotics specifically to prevent it. “Flying Dollar Bills”. From American Fowlbrood, a bacterial disease that is wiping out entire colonies.

Despite better laboratory treatment of the animals today, the lifespan of the bees has decreased, with standardized protocols for keeping bees in labs developed in the 2000s. “You think life expectancy is longer or more stable because we’re getting better at it, right?” Nerman said. Instead, the death toll doubled.

According to the team’s analysis, the decline in bee survival is linked to a decline in US honey production.

Their next step is to compare the lifespan trends of American honey bees with international bee colonies; If there are differences, the team can investigate whether specific genetics, pesticides, or pathogens are driving the worrisome trend.

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