What’s wrong with the New Scientist story about “Bumblebees deployed to spray crops with pesticides”?

Here’s a link to the story:

Bumblebees deployed to spray crops with pesticides

There’s at least three things wrong with this story:

  1. The accompanying image is of a honey bee, not a bumblebee.
  2. Bumblebees have nests, not hives.
  3. It’s a dumb idea. For a whole set of reasons, some of which are mentioned by scientists who were interviewed for the story.  I’d add another one: these bees will visit a lot of other flowers besides the ones that are being targeted, potentially spreading the bio-control fungus far and wide in the environment.  Is that really a good idea?

Two of these things are within the control of New Scientist.

Thanks to my colleague Dr Wanda McCormick for pointing out the story.

7 thoughts on “What’s wrong with the New Scientist story about “Bumblebees deployed to spray crops with pesticides”?

  1. pbk2100

    Information and knowledge in science need to be dealt in the correct perspective and your contribution is of great significance. Thanks for building bioknowledge of honey bees and bumblebees.

  2. Susan Walter

    I’m surprised they didn’t interview Peter Kevan at Guelph Uni. I seem to remember this is his current area of research (but I might be wrong).

    In terms of it being a dumb idea, is it any dumber than spraying that drifts?

    The honey bee photo is irritating. Oh well, I suppose we should all just be thankful it is at least hymenoptera and not an Eristalis sp hover fly.

  3. Neil Hobbs

    The problem with the picture not being correct doesn’t just happen with bumblebees and honey bees, although they look very different. It happens alot with mosquitoes too, apparently Anopheles, Stegomyia/Aedes and Culex are all the same too!
    You’d think that of all the things, making sure the picture fits with the story would be the easiest thing to get correct.

  4. lifeonlystill

    It’s not the first time I read an article where great science is turned into a stupid idea for problems that actually have easy solutions.
    As someone only starting out in science, comments like yours are really helpful in learning to spot bad science reporting.
    Thank you!


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