The impact of neonicotinoid insecticides on insect pollinators is highly controversial. Previous studies have shown that bees become disoriented by "Neonics" and can't find back into their hive. Now researchers report in a new study: The insects literally fly on neonicotinoids. The study shows that honeybees do not avoid nectar-relevant concentrations of three of the most commonly used neonicotinoids, Imidacloprid (IMD), Thiamethoxam (TMX), and Clothianidin (CLO), in food. Moreover, bees of both species prefer to eat more of sucrose solutions laced with IMD or TMX than sucrose alone.

The nicotine contained in the neonicotinoids acts directly on the brain of bees and triggers the "typical mechanisms of addiction", confirmed study director Geraldine Wright of the University of Newcastle (AUS) in an interview with the science division of Austrian broadcaster ORF. Whether the preference grows into an addiction with all attendant circumstances, such as withdrawal symptoms, can only be verified in long-term studies.

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