Neonicotinoid-contaminated pollinator strips adjacent to cropland reduce honeybee nutritional status

This study concluded that small areas set aside for pollinator forage within a highly developed agricultural landscape are not sufficiently protected from neonicotinoid contamination when the chemicals are used prophylactically throughout the area. Researchers found that honey bee health was compromised whether their colonies were place in habitat on organic or conventional farms when those farms were within a landscape dominated by conventional agriculture.

Leaf tissue from pollinator strips on organic and conventional farms had similar levels of clothianidin. Bee bread collected from hives at organic farms had lower levels of clothianidin. Still, the levels detected were high enough to harm bee health (as measured by the quantity of glycogen, lipid, and protein in worker bees).

The organic sites were generally 140 m from conventional sites. The range was from 10 m to 380 m. Researchers noted that the distance between clothianidin detections and conventional sites indicates that a pathway other than dust-off is causing the contamination. The authors speculated that water and soil routes warrant more attention.

Xerces staff noted that while honey bees have foraging fidelity, the study design doesn’t appear to control for honey bees foraging outside the designated pollinator habitat. Similar research evaluating effects to solitary native bees with shorter foraging range will further elucidate the potential for bees to be exposed while foraging in designated pollinator habitat.

Mogren, C. L., and J. G. Lundgren
Scientfic Reports
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