Studies: Brazil’s native bees are vital for agriculture, but are being killed by it

Mongabay discusses how Brazil’s native bees are vital for agriculture, but are being killed by it.

  • Native Brazilian bees provide several environmental services, the most important being pollination of plants, including agricultural crops.
  • Stingless beekeeping also helps to keep the forest standing, as honey farmers tend to preserve the environment and restore areas used in their activity.
  • But food production based on monoculture and heavy on pesticide use is threatening native bee populations.
  • The western honey bee (Apis mellifera), an imported species, dominates Brazil’s beekeeping and its research into the harmful effects of pesticides; but studies show that pesticides affect stingless bees more intensely.

study conducted by researchers at São Paulo State University (UNESP) and published in 2019 assessed the effect of dimethoate, which is used as an international reference in toxicity tests.

Also in 2019, at the University of São Paulo’s Luiz de Queiroz Higher School of Agriculture (Esalq-USP), another study showed that thiamethoxam, widely used in agriculture, and three other insecticides from the neonicotinoid group may cause behavioral changes in adult jataí bees, such as reducing flight speed and  distance traveled.

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