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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Managing Diseases and Pests of Honey Bees to Improve Queen and Colony Health

Location: Bee Research

Title: Pesticide exposure in honey bees results in increased levels of the gut pathogen Nosema

Authors
item Pettis, Jeffery
item Vanengelsdorp, Dennis -
item Johnson, Josephine -
item Divley, Galen -

Submitted to: Naturwissenschaften
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: December 31, 2011
Publication Date: January 13, 2012
Citation: Pettis, J.S., Vanengelsdorp, D., Johnson, J., Divley, G. 2012. Pesticide exposure in honey bees results in increased levels of the gut pathogen Nosema. Naturwissenschaften. 99:153–158.

Interpretive Summary: Global pollinator declines have been attributed to habitat destruction, pesticide use and climate change. Managed honey bee, Apis mellifera, colonies are part of these worldwide declines and are exposed to a wide variety of contaminants as they forage in the environment. Factors blamed for their decline range from parasitic mites, poor nutrition, and pesticide exposure in agricultural crops, pathogens or some combination of these factors. Here we exposed honey bee colonies during three brood generations to sub-lethal doses of a widely used pesticide, imidacloprid, and then subsequently challenged newly-emerged bees with the gut parasite, Nosema. We demonstrated an increase in pathogen growth within individual bees reared in colonies exposed to the pesticide. Interactions between pesticides and pathogens could be a major contributor to increased mortality of honey bee colonies worldwide. This information will be useful to bee biologist, regulatory personal, and the public at large.

Technical Abstract: Global pollinator declines have been attributed to habitat destruction, pesticide use and climate change. Managed honey bee, Apis mellifera, colonies are part of these worldwide declines and are exposed to a wide variety of contaminants as they forage in the environment. Factors blamed for their decline range from parasitic mites, poor nutrition, and pesticide exposure in agricultural crops, pathogens or some combination of these factors. Here we exposed honey bee colonies during three brood generations to sub-lethal doses of a widely used pesticide, imidacloprid, and then subsequently challenged newly-emerged bees with the gut parasite, Nosema ceranae. The pesticide dosages used were low but within the range of residues found in nectar and pollen of crops following treatment with imidacloprid. We demonstrated an increase in pathogen growth within individual bees reared in colonies exposed to the pesticide. Interactions between pesticides and pathogens could be a major contributor to increased mortality of honey bee colonies worldwide.

Last Modified: 7/30/2014
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