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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Beltsville, Maryland (BARC) » Beltsville Agricultural Research Center » Bee Research Laboratory » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #310010

Research Project: Managing Honey Bees against Disease and Colony Stress

Location: Bee Research Laboratory

Title: A survey of imidacloprid levels in water sources potentially frequented by honey bees (Apis mellifera) in the Eastern U.S.

Author
item Johnson, Josephine - University Of Maryland
item Pettis, Jeffery

Submitted to: Journal of Water Air and Soil Pollution
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/24/2014
Publication Date: 12/1/2014
Citation: Johnson, J., Pettis, J.S. 2014. A survey of imidacloprid levels in water sources potentially frequented by honey bees (Apis mellifera) in the Eastern U.S.. Journal Of Water Air And Soil Pollution. 225(11):1-6.

Interpretive Summary: This study examines the levels of contamination of the water soluble pesticide imidacloprid in slow moving or still water sources used by honey bees. Honey bees collect water and bring it back to their hive to drink, cool the hive, dilute honey and control humidity. If the water they are collecting is contaminated with low levels of pesticides contact or drinking of the water may affect their health in negative ways. We found 21% of the water samples were positive for imidacloprid with an average level of 11.5ppb detected. While these levels are low the range of types of water sources that tested positive does raise concern for pollinator health.

Technical Abstract: This study was undertaken to examine contamination levels of imidacloprid (IMI), a water soluble neonicotinoid insecticide, in still or slow moving water sources of the sort often frequented by honey bees, Apis mellifera. Honey bees frequent open water to transport water into the hive for consumption, cooling of the hive (Kuhnholz and Seeley 1997), dilution of honey for brood use, and humidity maintenance for brood rearing (Gould and Gould 1995). If water sources frequented by honey bees carry low levels of pesticides, the contamination, by contact or by ingestion, may adversely affect their health. We found 21% of the water samples were positive for imidacloprid with an average level of 11.5ppb detected. While these levels are low the range of types of water sources that tested positive does raise concern for pollinator health.