The Effects of Fungicides on Bumble Bee Colonies (HHMI Scientists At Work)
Are fungicides safe for bumble bees? Entomologist Shawn Steffan designed an experiment to answer this question.
Fungicides are routinely used in agriculture to protect crops from harmful fungi. Dr. Shawn Steffan at the University of Wisconsin-Madison discovered that the stored pollen and nectar that bumble bee larvae feed on is rich in yeast, a type of fungus. Based on this observation, he proposed that the use of fungicides could affect bumble bee food stores and ultimately the health of bumble bee colonies. He then designed an experiment to test this hypothesis by comparing the sizes of bumble bee colonies that forage on flowering plants grown in the presence or absence of fungicides.
Produced by Day's Edge Productions for HHMI BioInteractive
Music by New West Studios