3 years ago

A 3-year survey of Italian honey bee-collected pollen reveals widespread contamination by agricultural pesticides

A 3-year survey of Italian honey bee-collected pollen reveals widespread contamination by agricultural pesticides
Honey bee (Apis mellifera L.) health is compromised by complex interactions between multiple stressors, among which pesticides play a major role. To better understand the extent of honey bee colonies' exposure to pesticides in time and space, we conducted a survey by collecting corbicular pollen from returning honey bee foragers in 53 Italian apiaries during the active beekeeping season of 3 subsequent years (2012–2014). Of 554 pollen samples analysed for pesticide residues, 62% contained at least one pesticide. The overall rate of multiresidual samples (38%) was higher than the rate of single pesticide samples (24%), reaching a maximum of 7 pesticides per sample (1%). Over 3years, 18 different pesticides were detected (10 fungicides and 8 insecticides) out of 66 analysed. Pesticide concentrations reached the level of concern for bee health (Hazard Quotient (HQ) higher than 1000) at least once in 13% of the apiaries and exceeded the thresholds of safety for human dietary intake (Acute Reference Dose (ARfD), the Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI), and the Maximum Residue Limit (MRL)) in 39% of the analysis. The pesticide which was most frequently detected was the insecticide chlorpyrifos (30% of the samples overall, exceeding ARfD, ADI, or MRL in 99% of the positive ones), followed by the fungicides mandipropamid (19%), metalaxyl (16%), spiroxamine (15%), and the neonicotinoid insecticide imidacloprid (12%). Imidacloprid had also the highest HQ level (5054, with 12% of its positive samples with HQ higher than 1000). This 3year survey provides further insights on the contamination caused by agricultural pesticide use on honey bee colonies. Bee-collected pollen is shown to be a valuable tool for environmental monitoring, and for the detection of illegal uses of pesticides.

Publisher URL: www.sciencedirect.com/science

DOI: S0048969717325779

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