Landscape scale study of the net effect of proximity to a neonicotinoid-treated crop on bee Colony health

Balfour, Nicholas J, Al Toufailia, Hasan, Scandian, Luciano, Blanchard, Héloïse E, Jesse, Matthew P, Carreck, Norman L and Ratnieks, Francis L W (2017) Landscape scale study of the net effect of proximity to a neonicotinoid-treated crop on bee Colony health. Environmental Science & Technology, 51 (18). pp. 10825-10833. ISSN 0013-936X

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Since 2013, the European Commission has restricted the use of three neonicotinoid insecticides as seed dressings on bee-attractive crops. Such crops represent an important source of forage for bees, which is often scarce in agro-ecosystems. However, this benefit has often been overlooked in the design of previous field studies, leaving the net impact of neonicotinoid treated crops on bees relatively unknown. Here, we determine the combined benefit (forage) and cost (insecticide) of oilseed rape grown from thiamethoxam-treated seeds on Bombus terrestris and Apis mellifera colonies. In April 2014, 36 colonies per species were located adjacent to three large oilseed rape fields (12 colonies per field). Another 36 were in three nearby locations in the same agro-ecosystem, but several kilometers distant from any oilseed rape fields. We found that Bombus colony growth and reproduction were unaffected by location (distant versus adjacent) following the two month flowering period. Apis colony and queen survival were unaffected. However, there was a small, but significant, negative relationship between honey and pollen
neonicotinoid contamination and Apis colony weight gain. We hypothesize that any sublethal effects of neonicotinoid seed dressings on Bombus colonies are potentially offset by the additional foraging resources provided. A better understanding of the ecological and agronomic factors underlying neonicotinoid residues is needed to inform evidence-based policy.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Life Sciences > Evolution, Behaviour and Environment
Research Centres and Groups: Laboratory of Apiculture and Social Insects
Subjects: S Agriculture > SF Animal culture > SF0517 Beneficial insects and insect culture > SF0522 Bee culture
Depositing User: Norman Carreck
Date Deposited: 11 Sep 2018 15:46
Last Modified: 11 Sep 2018 15:52

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