Research Update: Honey Bees and Pesticides

The UF/IFAS Honey Bee Research and Extension Laboratory (HBREL) collaborated on research that led to two 2019 publications on honey bees and pesticides. Below are summaries of the research as well as links to the full publications. More publications from the HBREL can be found at:

Toxicity to Honey Bees

Key Finding:

  1. The treatment of larval diets with common pesticides, such as clothianidin, dimethoate, and imidacloprid, did not affect survival, developmental rate, or weight of immature honey bees; however, treatment with chlorpyrifos (a pesticide used in crop management) did.

Significance: The results are valuable for evaluating the chronic toxicity of pesticides with these active ingredients to developing honey bees.

For more details, read the publication here:

Dai, P., Jack, C. J., Mortensen, A. N., Bustamante, T. A., Bloomquist, J. R., & Ellis, J. D. (2019) Chronic toxicity of clothianidin, imidacloprid, chlorpyrifos, and dimethoate to Apis mellifera L. larvae reared in vitro. Pest Management Science 75: 29-36.

Honey Bee Exposure to Pesticides

Key Findings:

  1. There was a total of 714 pesticide detections in pollen and 1,008 detections in wax collected from honey bee colonies. A total of 91 different compounds were detected: of these, 79 different pesticides and metabolites were observed in the pollen and 56 were observed in the wax.
  2. In all years, insecticides were detected more frequently than were fungicides or herbicides: one third of the detected pesticides were found only in pollen.

Honey Bee with Pollen
Pollinators, including honey bees, are responsible for the successful reproduction of more than 87% of flowering plant species: they are vital to ecosystem health and agricultural services globally. Understanding the effects of pesticides on honey bees is important to ensure their health and vitality. This can only be done once residue levels in colonies are appropriately documented, as done in this study.

For more details, read the publication here:

Ostiguy, N., Drummond, F.A., Aronstein, K., Eitzer, B., Ellis, J.D., Spivak, M., Sheppard, W.S. (2019) Honey Bee Exposure to Pesticides: A Four-Year Nationwide Study. Insects 10(1): 13.

This research update was written by UF HBREL graduate student, Brynn Johnson


Posted: May 15, 2020

Category: Agriculture, Crops, Farm Management, Livestock, UF/IFAS Extension
Tags: Beekeeping, Bees, Crops, Entomology, Honeybee, Insects, Pest, Pest Management, Pesticides, Pests, Research Update, UFBugs, UFHoneyBeeLab

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