Spider Venom Could Save Bees from Harmful Toxin

Scientists have found that a bio-pesticide is very effective in saving bees from harmful toxins. The biochemical was created by researchers after using spider venom and a plant protein. Although the biochemical is highly toxic for a number of insect pests, but it is vice versa for honeybees.

Declining population of honeybees has become a big reason to worry all over the world as approximately 90% of plants rely on pollinators, like honeybees, to survive. Experts have blamed neonicotinoid pesticides for killing of honeybees in large numbers, which is believed to cause serious impacts on food production.

A combination, of a natural toxin from the venom of an Australian funnel web spider and snowdrop lectin called Hv1a/GNA fusion protein bio-pesticide, has been tested by a team at Newcastle University. The researchers noticed that honeybees were able to forage without any harm, even when they received usually high doses of it. It takes a lot for honeybees to have the ability of learning and remembering floral traits associated with food while on a forage.

When this process is disrupted, honeybee colony survival is badly impacted because bees cannot figure out where the food is and how to return to their hives.

Professor Angharad Gatehouse, based in Newcastle University's School of Biology and one of the supervisors on the project, explained that no detrimental effects are caused by Hv1a/GNA on honeybees. "Previous studies have already shown that it is safe for higher animals, which means it has real potential as a pesticide and offers us a safe alternative to some of those currently on the market", he added.

Neonicotinoid pesticides are to be blamed for the poor performance and declining survival rates of honeybees, said Dr. Geraldine Wright, the head of the university's Honeybee Lab.