Bumblebees: Antibiotic used on crops might make it harder for the insects to forage

Streptomycin, an antibiotic used to treat bacterial diseases in apple orchards, might have a negative impact on bee foraging behaviour


23 February 2022

A Common Eastern Bumble Bee (Bombus impatiens) perches on a Goldenrod flower.

A common eastern bumblebee (Bombus impatiens)

Clarence Holmes Wildlife/Alamy

Exposure to streptomycin, an antibiotic used to treat crop diseases in the US, weakens the foraging ability of the common eastern bumblebee (Bombus impatiens), which may have negative implications for plant pollination.

The use of antibiotics for spraying crops has increased exponentially in recent years, with streptomycin predominantly used in the US to control the bacterial disease fire blight in apple and pear orchards.

To assess the impact of contact with the drug on a key pollinator, Laura Avila at Emory University in Atlanta, …