Bumblebee colony development following chronic exposure to field-realistic levels of the neonicotinoid pesticide thiamethoxam under laboratory conditions
Stanley, Dara A.
Raine, Nigel E.
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Stanley, Dara A. Raine, Nigel E. (2017). Bumblebee colony development following chronic exposure to field-realistic levels of the neonicotinoid pesticide thiamethoxam under laboratory conditions. Scientific Reports 7 ,
Neonicotinoid pesticides are used in agriculture to reduce damage from crop pests. However, beneficial insects such as bees can come into contact with these pesticides when foraging in treated areas, with potential consequences for bee declines and pollination service delivery. Honeybees are typically used as a model organism to investigate insecticide impacts on bees, but relatively little is known about impacts on other taxa such as bumblebees. In this experiment, we chronically exposed whole mature bumblebee (Bombus terrestris) colonies to field-realistic levels of the neonicotinoid thiamethoxam (2.4ppb & 10ppb) over four weeks, and compared colony growth under laboratory conditions. We found no impact of insecticide exposure on colony weight gain, or the number or mass of sexuals produced, although colonies exposed to 2.4ppb produced larger males. As previous studies have reported pesticide effects on bumblebee colony growth, this may suggest that impacts on bumblebee colonies are more pronounced for colonies at an earlier stage in the reproductive cycle. Alternatively, it may also indicate that thiamethoxam differs in toxicity compared to previously tested neonicotinoids in terms of reproductive effects. In either case, assessing bumblebee colony development under field conditions is likely more informative for real world scenarios than tests conducted in laboratory conditions.