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Article

Comprehensive Survey of Area-Wide Agricultural Pesticide Use in Southern United States Row Crops and Potential Impact on Honey Bee Colonies

1
Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology, University of Arkansas System, Division of Agriculture, Little Rock, AR 72204, USA
2
Southern Horticultural Laboratory, Agricultural Research Service, United States Department of Agriculture, Poplarville, MS 39470, USA
3
Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology, University of Arkansas System, Division of Agriculture, Lonoke, AR 72086, USA
4
Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology, Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology, The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN 37996, USA
5
Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR 72701, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Insects 2019, 10(9), 280; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects10090280
Received: 18 September 2018 / Revised: 9 August 2019 / Accepted: 27 August 2019 / Published: 2 September 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Stressors on Bee Health)
Honey bees forage across a large area, continually scouting the local landscape for ephemeral food resources. Beekeepers often rely on flowering plants in and around irrigated farmland to maintain their colonies during dry seasons, despite the potential risk of pesticide exposure. Recent declines in pollinator abundance and diversity have focused attention on the role of pesticides and their effects on honey bee health. This investigation examined two types of landscapes within a two-mile (3.2 km) radius of honey bee colonies: an intensive agricultural setting and a rural setting without intensive agriculture. More than 10,000 acres of agricultural land was surveyed to quantify the area of cultivated crops and the area treated with pesticides, including seed treatments and foliar applications of insecticides. Samples of honey, bee bread (stored pollen), beeswax, and adult bees were collected from hives in both landscape types and screened for pesticide residues to determine if foraging bees were transporting pesticides to hives. Some samples of bee bread and honey did contain pesticide residues, but these were below known lethal dose (LD50) levels for honey bees. Beeswax samples contained the highest levels of contamination, but most were still relatively low. Samples were screened for 174 common agricultural pesticides and metabolites, but only 26 compounds were detected during the two-year study. These included one defoliant, one insect growth regulator, five herbicides, six fungicides, six insecticides never used in beekeeping, and five insecticides/miticides and their metabolites, which are used in beekeeping and for various other agricultural purposes, as well as two miticides exclusively used by beekeepers to control Varroa destructor. Bee colonies foraging in agricultural landscapes are potentially exposed to numerous pesticide applications. While the residues detected in this study did not pose an acute lethal risk to adult honey bees, this study did not measure sublethal effects on bee colony health or performance, which merit further investigation. View Full-Text
Keywords: Apoideae; honey bee; Apis mellifera; pesticide; neonicotinoid; agriculture; pollinator decline; landscape; crops Apoideae; honey bee; Apis mellifera; pesticide; neonicotinoid; agriculture; pollinator decline; landscape; crops
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MDPI and ACS Style

Zawislak, J.; Adamczyk, J.; Johnson, D.R.; Lorenz, G.; Black, J.; Hornsby, Q.; Stewart, S.D.; Joshi, N. Comprehensive Survey of Area-Wide Agricultural Pesticide Use in Southern United States Row Crops and Potential Impact on Honey Bee Colonies. Insects 2019, 10, 280. https://doi.org/10.3390/insects10090280

AMA Style

Zawislak J, Adamczyk J, Johnson DR, Lorenz G, Black J, Hornsby Q, Stewart SD, Joshi N. Comprehensive Survey of Area-Wide Agricultural Pesticide Use in Southern United States Row Crops and Potential Impact on Honey Bee Colonies. Insects. 2019; 10(9):280. https://doi.org/10.3390/insects10090280

Chicago/Turabian Style

Zawislak, Jon, John Adamczyk, Donald R. Johnson, Gus Lorenz, Joe Black, Quinton Hornsby, Scott D. Stewart, and Neelendra Joshi. 2019. "Comprehensive Survey of Area-Wide Agricultural Pesticide Use in Southern United States Row Crops and Potential Impact on Honey Bee Colonies" Insects 10, no. 9: 280. https://doi.org/10.3390/insects10090280

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