Repression and recuperation of brood production in Bombus terrestris bumble bees exposed to a pulse of the neonicotinoid pesticide Imidacloprid
Copyright: 2013 Laycock, Cresswell. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Currently, there is concern about declining bee populations and some blame the residues of neonicotinoid pesticides in the nectar and pollen of treated crops. Bumble bees are important wild pollinators that are widely exposed to dietary neonicotinoids by foraging in agricultural environments. In the laboratory, we tested the effect of a pulsed exposure (14 days ‘on dose’ followed by 14 days ‘off dose’) to a common neonicotinoid, imidacloprid, on the amount of brood (number of eggs and larvae) produced by Bombus terrestris L. bumble bees in small, standardised experimental colonies (a queen and four adult workers). During the initial ‘on dose’ period we observed a dose-dependent repression of brood production in colonies, with productivity decreasing as dosage increased up to 98 mg kg-1 dietary imidacloprid. During the following ‘off dose’ period, colonies showed a dose-dependent recuperation such that total brood production during the 28-day pulsed exposure was not correlated with imidacloprid up to 98 mg kg-1. Our findings raise further concern about the threat to wild bumble bees from neonicotinoids, but they also indicate some resilience to a pulsed exposure, such as that arising from the transient bloom of a treated mass-flowering crop.
Natural Environment Research Council (NERC)