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The Effects of Four Insect Growth-Regulating (IGR) Insecticides on Honeybee (Apis mellifera L.) Colony Development, Queen Rearing and Drone Sperm Production

Thompson, Helen M., Wilkins, Selwyn, Battersby, Alastair H., Waite, Ruth J., Wilkinson, David
Ecotoxicology 2005 v.14 no.7 pp. 757-769
Apis mellifera, adults, brood rearing, diflubenzuron, eggs, fenoxycarb, honey bee colonies, honey bees, insecticides, larvae, models, queen rearing, spermatozoa, spring, viability, winter
This study assessed the effects of exposure to IGRs on the long-term development of the honeybee colony, viability of queens and sperm production in drones and integrated the data into a honeybee population model. Colonies treated with diflubenzuron resulted in a short-term reduction in the numbers of adult bees and brood. Colonies treated with fenoxycarb declined during the season earlier and started the season slower. The number of queens that successfully mated and laid eggs was affected in the fenoxycarb treatment group but there were no significant differences in the drone sperm counts between the colonies. An existing honeybee population model was modified to include exposure to IGRs. In the model, fenoxycarb reduced the winter size of the colony, with the greatest effects following a June or an August application. Assuming a 'larvae per nurse bee' ratio of 1.5 for brood rearing capability, the reduction in winter size of a colony following a fenoxycarb application was at its worst about 8%. However, even if only those bees reared within 2 weeks of the IGR being applied are subject to premature ageing, this might significantly reduce the size of over-wintering colonies, and increase the chance of the bee population dwindling and dying in late winter or early spring.