Insect pollinators are essential for both the production of a large proportion of world crops and the health of natural ecosystems. As important pollinators, bumblebees must learn to forage on flowers to feed both themselves and provision their colonies. Increased use of pesticides has caused concern over sublethal effects on bees, such as impacts on reproduction or learning ability. However, little is known about how sublethal exposure to field-realistic levels of pesticide might affect the ability of bees to visit and manipulate flowers.

Insect pollination is a vital ecosystem service that maintains biodiversity and sustains agricultural crop yields. Social bees are essential insect pollinators, so it is concerning that their populations are in global decline.

Chronic exposure of bumblebees to two pesticides (a neonicotinoid and a pyrethroid) independently and in combination, at concentrations approximating field-level exposure, impairs natural foraging behaviour and increases worker mortality, with knock-on effects for brood development and colony success.