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Ecotoxicology

, Volume 27, Issue 5, pp 527–538 | Cite as

Sublethal effects of clothianidin and Nosema spp. on the longevity and foraging activity of free flying honey bees

  • Richard OdemerEmail author
  • Lisa Nilles
  • Nadine Linder
  • Peter Rosenkranz
Article

Abstract

Neonicotinoids alone or in combination with pathogens are considered to be involved in the worldwide weakening of honey bees. We here present a new approach for testing sublethal and/or synergistic effects in free flying colonies. In our experiment individually marked honey bees were kept in free flying mini-hives and chronically exposed to sublethal doses of the neonicotinoid clothianidin. Additional groups of bees were challenged with Nosema infections or with combinations of the pesticide and pathogens. Longevity and flight activity of the differentially treated bees were monitored for a period of 18 days. In contrast to previous laboratory studies, no effect of the neonicotinoid treatment on mortality or flight activity could be observed. Although the lifespan of Nosema infected bees were significantly reduced compared to non-infected bees a combination of pesticide and pathogen did not reveal any synergistic effect. Our results indicate that individual bees are less impaired by neonicotinoids if kept within the social environment of the colony. The effect of such a “social buffering” should be considered in future risk assessments.

Keywords

Neonicotinoid clothianidin Honey bees Nosema Sublethal effects Field realistic Colony level 

Notes

Acknowledgements

We appreciate the support of the whole LAB staff for helping with the labelling of many individual bees. Emilia Semberg and Prof. Ingemar Fries from the SLU, Uppsala, performed the molecular identification of Nosema species with quantitative PCR analysis of Nosema samples. We also want to thank the reviewers for their valuable comments and suggestions that helped improving the manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.

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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Apicultural State InstituteUniversity of HohenheimStuttgartGermany

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