, Volume 25, Issue 5, pp 1000–1010 | Cite as

Impacts of chronic sublethal exposure to clothianidin on winter honeybees

  • Abdulrahim T. AlkassabEmail author
  • Wolfgang H. Kirchner


A wide application of systemic pesticides and detection of their residues in bee-collected pollen and nectar at sublethal concentrations led to the emergence of concerns about bees’ chronic exposure and possible sublethal effects on insect pollinators. Therefore, special attention was given to reducing unintentional intoxications under field conditions. The sensitivity of winter bees throughout their long lifespan to residual exposure of pesticides is not well known, since most previous studies only looked at the effects on summer bees. Here, we performed various laboratory bioassays to assess the effects of clothianidin on the survival and behavior of winter bees. Oral lethal and sublethal doses were administered throughout 12-day. The obtained LD50 values at 48, 72, 96 h and 10 days were 26.9, 18.0, 15.1 and 9.5 ng/bee, respectively. Concentrations <20 µg/kg were found to be sublethal. Oral exposure to sublethal doses was carried out for 12-day and, the behavioral functions were tested on the respective 13th day. Although slight reductions in the responses at the concentrations 10 and 15 µg/kg were observed, all tested sublethal concentrations had showed non-significant effects on the sucrose responsiveness, habitation of the proboscis extension reflex and olfactory learning performance. Nevertheless, chronic exposure to 15 µg/kg affected the specificity of the early long-term memory (24 h). Since the tested concentrations were in the range of field-relevant concentrations, our results strongly suggest that related-effects on winter and summer bees’ sensitivity should also be studied under realistic conditions.


Clothianidin Lethal Sublethal Behavioral functions Winter bees 



We thank the team of behavioral biology and biology education at the Ruhr-University for helpful discussions. We are also grateful to Dr. Pia Aumeier for her taking care of the study apiary. Suggestions and comments by anonymous reviewers and the editor to improve the manuscript are gratefully acknowledged.


This study was not supported by any commercial company.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Abdulrahim T. Alkassab
    • 1
    Email author
  • Wolfgang H. Kirchner
    • 1
  1. 1.Faculty of Biology and BiotechnologyRuhr University BochumBochumGermany

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