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Insects 2019, 10(1), 19; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects10010019

Initial Exposure of Wax Foundation to Agrochemicals Causes Negligible Effects on the Growth and Winter Survival of Incipient Honey Bee (Apis mellifera) Colonies

Department of Entomology, Texas A&M University, 2475 TAMU, College Station, TX 77843-2475, USA
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Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Payne and Walsh are co-first authors.
Received: 15 July 2018 / Revised: 8 August 2018 / Accepted: 29 August 2018 / Published: 8 January 2019
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Abstract

Widespread use of agrochemicals in the U.S. has led to nearly universal contamination of beeswax in honey bee hives. The most commonly found agrochemicals in wax include beekeeper-applied miticides containing tau-fluvalinate, coumaphos, or amitraz, and field-applied pesticides containing chlorothalonil or chlorpyrifos. Wax contaminated with these pesticides negatively affects the reproductive quality of queens and drones. However, the synergistic effects of these pesticides on the growth and survival of incipient colonies remain understudied. We established new colonies using frames with wax foundation that was pesticide free or contaminated with field-relevant concentrations of amitraz alone, a combination of tau-fluvalinate and coumaphos, or a combination of chlorothalonil and chlorpyrifos. Colony growth was assessed by estimating comb and brood production, food storage, and adult bee population during a colony’s first season. We also measured colony overwintering survival. We found no significant differences in colony growth or survivorship between colonies established on pesticide-free vs. pesticide-laden wax foundation. However, colonies that had Varroa destructor levels above 3% in the fall were more likely to die over winter than those with levels below this threshold, indicating that high Varroa infestation in the fall played a more important role than initial pesticide exposure of wax foundation in the winter survival of newly established colonies. View Full-Text
Keywords: agrochemicals; Apis mellifera; honey bees; beeswax; colony growth; pesticides; toxicology; miticides agrochemicals; Apis mellifera; honey bees; beeswax; colony growth; pesticides; toxicology; miticides
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Payne, A.N.; Walsh, E.M.; Rangel, J. Initial Exposure of Wax Foundation to Agrochemicals Causes Negligible Effects on the Growth and Winter Survival of Incipient Honey Bee (Apis mellifera) Colonies. Insects 2019, 10, 19.

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