How A Common Herbicide Targets The Gut Health Of Honey Bees

UT researchers found that glyphosate, an active ingredient in Roundup, can destroy a bee’s ability to digest food and maintain immunity.

By Michael MarksSeptember 26, 2018 11:55 am

We’ve heard stories about the decline of bees for over a decade now, and there seems to be no shortage of potential reasons: habitat loss, climate change and pesticide use all get named as culprits. Now, glyphosate will likely be added to that list; it’s the active ingredient in common herbicides like Roundup. Many landowners rely on it to fight weeds, but according to a new study by biologists at the University of Texas at Austin, it may be harmful to bees.

Erick da Silva Motta is one of the study’s authors and is a doctoral candidate in UT’s Department of Integrative Biology. He says glyphosate essentially affects the gut health of honey bees –  in other words, the beneficial bacteria that live inside them. Glyphosate can negatively affect how bees process food, their immune system and their defense against disease.

What you’ll hear in this segment:

– How glyphosate can weaken bees’ immunity

– How the researchers “marked” bees from UT’s hives in order to study them accurately

– Why field research is now needed to better understand how glyphosate affects bees in nature


Written by Caroline Covington.