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Insects 2015, 6(2), 478-488; doi:10.3390/insects6020478

Colonies of Bumble Bees (Bombus impatiens) Produce Fewer Workers, Less Bee Biomass, and Have Smaller Mother Queens Following Fungicide Exposure

1
Department of Entomology, University of Wisconsin, 1630 Linden Dr., Madison, WI 53706, USA
2
United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Vegetable Crops Research Unit, Madison, WI 53706, USA
These authors contributed equally to this work.
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Brian T. Forschler
Received: 18 March 2015 / Revised: 22 May 2015 / Accepted: 27 May 2015 / Published: 1 June 2015
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [180 KB, uploaded 1 June 2015]   |  

Abstract

Bees provide vital pollination services to the majority of flowering plants in both natural and agricultural systems. Unfortunately, both native and managed bee populations are experiencing declines, threatening the persistence of these plants and crops. Agricultural chemicals are one possible culprit contributing to bee declines. Even fungicides, generally considered safe for bees, have been shown to disrupt honey bee development and impair bumble bee behavior. Little is known, however, how fungicides may affect bumble bee colony growth. We conducted a controlled cage study to determine the effects of fungicide exposure on colonies of a native bumble bee species (Bombus impatiens). Colonies of B. impatiens were exposed to flowers treated with field-relevant levels of the fungicide chlorothalonil over the course of one month. Colony success was assessed by the number and biomass of larvae, pupae, and adult bumble bees. Bumble bee colonies exposed to fungicide produced fewer workers, lower total bee biomass, and had lighter mother queens than control colonies. Our results suggest that fungicides negatively affect the colony success of a native bumble bee species and that the use of fungicides during bloom has the potential to severely impact the success of native bumble bee populations foraging in agroecosystems. View Full-Text
Keywords: chlorothalonil; bee decline; native bees chlorothalonil; bee decline; native bees
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Bernauer, O.M.; Gaines-Day, H.R.; Steffan, S.A. Colonies of Bumble Bees (Bombus impatiens) Produce Fewer Workers, Less Bee Biomass, and Have Smaller Mother Queens Following Fungicide Exposure. Insects 2015, 6, 478-488.

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