Clearance of ingested neonicotinoid pesticide (imidacloprid) in honey bees (Apis mellifera) and bumblebees (Bombus terrestris)
Bees in agricultural landscapes are exposed to dietary pesticides such as imidacloprid when they feed from treated mass-flowering crops. Concern about the consequent impact on bees makes it important to understand their resilience. In the laboratory, the authors therefore fed adult worker bees on dosed syrup (125 μg L−1 of imidacloprid, or 98 μg kg−1) either continuously or as a pulsed exposure and measured their behaviour (feeding and locomotory activity) and whole-body residues.
On dosed syrup, honey bees maintained much lower bodily levels of imidacloprid than bumblebees (<0.2 ng versus 2.4 ng of imidacloprid per bee). Dietary imidacloprid did not affect the behaviour of honey bees, but it reduced feeding and locomotory activity in bumblebees. After the pulsed exposure, bumblebees cleared bodily imidacloprid after 48 h and recovered behaviourally.
The differential behavioural resilience of the two species can be attributed to the observed differential in bodily residues. The ability of bumblebees to recover may be environmentally relevant in wild populations that face transitory exposures from the pulsed blooming of mass-flowering crops. © 2013 Society of Chemical Industry