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Laboratory bioassays on the impact of cadmium, copper and lead on the development and survival of honeybee (Apis mellifera L.) larvae and foragers

Di, Ning, Hladun, Kristen R., Zhang, Kai, Liu, Tong-Xian, Trumble, John T.
Chemosphere 2016 v.152 pp. 530-538
Apis mellifera, acute toxicity, artificial diets, bioassays, cadmium, copper, dose response, exposure pathways, foraging, larvae, lead, lethal concentration 50, mortality, pollinators, pollutants, sucrose, worker honey bees
Honeybees (Apis mellifera L.) have been widely distributed around the world to serve as pollinators for agriculture. They can encounter metal pollutants through various routes of exposure, including foraging on contaminated plant resources. Chronic and acute toxicity tests were conducted on larvae using artificial diets and on foragers using solutions of 50% sucrose, which contained cadmium (Cd), copper (Cu) and lead (Pb). We found that mortality increased in both larvae and foragers in a dose-dependent manner. Control larvae had higher relative growth indices (RGI) from day 6 to day 10 compared to all metal treatments, demonstrating substantial negative effects of metals on development. Copper was the least toxic to larvae with an LC50 of 6.97 mg L⁻¹. For foragers, Pb had the highest LC50, which was 345 mg L⁻¹. Foragers and larvae accumulated substantial quantities of all metals, and subsequent sucrose consumption decreased after dosing. Overall, honeybee larvae and foragers suffered detrimental effects when they were exposed to ecologically-relevant concentrations of Cd, Cu and Pb.