The nitrosubstituted neonicotinoid insecticides, which include imidacloprid, thiamethoxam and clothianidin, are widely used to control a range of important agricultural pests both by foliar applications and also as seed dressings and by soil application. Since they exhibit systemic properties, exposure of bees may occur as a result of residues present in the nectar and/or pollen of seed or soiltreated crop plants and so they have been the subject of much debate about whether they cause adverse effects in pollinating insects under field conditions. Due to these perceived concerns, the use of the three neonicotinoids imidacloprid, clothianidin and thiamethoxam has been temporarily suspended in the European Union for seed treatment, soil application and foliar treatment in crops attractive to bees. Monitoring data from a number of countries are available to assess the presence of neonicotinoid residues in honey bee samples and possible impacts at the colony level and these are reviewed here together with a number of field studies which have looked at the impact of clothiandin on honey bees in relation to specific crop use and in particular with oilseed rape. Currently there is considerable uncertainty with regards to the regulatory testing requirements for field studies. Accordingly, a testing protocol was developed to address any acute and chronic risks from oilseed rape seeds containing a coating with 10 g clothianidin and 2 g betacyfluthrin per kg seeds (Elado®) for managed honey bee (Apis mellifera) colonies, commercially bred bumble bee (Bombus terrestris) colonies and red mason bees (Osmia bicornis) as a representative solitary bee species. This is described here together with a summary of the results obtained as an introduction to the study details given in the following papers in this issue.
Schmuck, R., & Lewis, G. (2016). Review of field and monitoring studies investigating the role of nitro-substituted neonicotinoid insecticides in the reported losses of honey bee colonies (Apis mellifera). Ecotoxicology, 25(9), 1617–1629. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10646-016-1734-7