Since beekeepers seem to be at war with chemical companies and the EPA seems to be bending its rules a bit more regarding pesticides and bees, it is great to hear researchers may have solved the colony collapse disorder problem all on their own. Amazingly, they have come up with a way to help bees purge pesticides from their system.
Nanoparticles Invented to Collect Pesticides and Fight Back Against Colony Collapse Disorder
Researchers at Washington State University have developed a nanoparticle that can be used to work naturally with the bee’s digestive system. Normally, pesticides accumulate on the pollen, which is taken in by the bee. The tiny amount of pesticide that is on the pollen begins to accumulate in the bee’s body with every trip to the flower or plant.
This new particle is made to attract pesticides, collecting them like a sponge. After a few hours, the nanoparticle will exit the bee’s body as waste. With it only taking a mere 15 nanograms of pesticide to kill a bee, this is a major breakthrough.
The nanoparticles are actually capable of absorbing roughly 300 nanograms of pesticide residue. The product was tested on 6,000 bees, who were fed a sugar solution with the microparticles in it. When the bees passed their waste, it was tested and found to have the microparticles. In addition to proving the product actually worked, it also served to show the product was not harmful to bees.
Student Project Makes the CCD Breakthrough
Amazingly, this nanoparticle was invented by a group of students. Waled Suliman, a research associate at Washington State University’s Dept. of Biological Systems Engineering, served as mentor for the students. The group took second place in the Alaska Airlines Environmental Innovation Challenge. In addition to hopefully saving the bees, the group members won a $10,000 second place bounty.
This was not the first taste of victory for these students, either. Last winter, they entered the Honey Bee Health Coalition’s Bee Nutrition Challenge. They were one of only four groups chosen out of 20 entries. They netted a cool $10,000 prize for that competition as well.
Suliman was just as excited as the students and was more than happy to share his thoughts on their project. “The material acts as a magnetic micro-sponge that absorbs ingested toxic residues.” On their big win, Suliman said, “We’re really proud to get noticed for the work we’ve done so far. And this will help us keep testing and refining the product.”
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