Neonicotinoid Pesticide Reduces Bumble Bee Colony Growth and Queen Production

  • Belzunces L
  • Bonmatin J
  • Chagnon M
 et al. 
  • 1


    Mendeley users who have this article in their library.
  • N/A


    Citations of this article.


Currently, there is concern about declining bee populations and the sustainability of pollination services. One potential threat to bees is the unintended impact of systemic insecticides, which are ingested by bees in the nectar and pollen from flowers of treated crops. To establish whether imidacloprid, a systemic neonicotinoid and insect neurotoxin, harms individual bees when ingested at environmentally realistic levels, we exposed adult worker bumble bees, Bombus terrestris L. (Hymenoptera: Apidae), and honey bees, Apis mellifera L. (Hymenoptera: Apidae), to dietary imidacloprid in feeder syrup at dosages between 0.08 and 125??gl-1. Honey bees showed no response to dietary imidacloprid on any variable that we measured (feeding, locomotion and longevity). In contrast, bumble bees progressively developed over time a dose-dependent reduction in feeding rate with declines of 10-30% in the environmentally relevant range of up to 10??gl-1, but neither their locomotory activity nor longevity varied with diet. To explain their differential sensitivity, we speculate that honey bees are better pre-adapted than bumble bees to feed on nectars containing synthetic alkaloids, such as imidacloprid, by virtue of their ancestral adaptation to tropical nectars in which natural alkaloids are prevalent. We emphasise that our study does not suggest that honey bee colonies are invulnerable to dietary imidacloprid under field conditions, but our findings do raise new concern about the impact of agricultural neonicotinoids on wild bumble bee populations. ?? 2012 Elsevier GmbH.

Author-supplied keywords

  • 6-
  • Algorithms
  • Animal
  • Animal Migration
  • Animal: drug effects
  • Animal: physiology
  • Animals
  • Apis mellifera
  • Bees
  • Bees: drug effects
  • Bees: microbiology
  • Bees: physiology
  • Behavior
  • Biodiversity
  • Bombus
  • Bombus terrestris
  • Bombus terrestris microcolonies
  • Bumble bee colony
  • Crop pollination
  • Demographic toxicology
  • Detoxification
  • Diptera
  • Ecosystem
  • Ecotoxicology
  • Environment
  • Fecundity
  • Feeding Behavior
  • Feeding Behavior: drug effects
  • Female
  • Flowers
  • Genetic
  • Genetic Variation
  • Genotype
  • Geography
  • Great Britain
  • Homalodisca coagulata
  • Host-Parasite Interactions
  • Imidacloprid
  • Imidazoles
  • Imidazoles: pharmacology
  • Insect pollinator
  • Insecticide
  • Insecticides
  • Insecticides: pharmacology
  • Lambda-cyhalothrin
  • Male
  • Microsatellite Repeats
  • Microscopy
  • Models
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Neonicotinoid
  • Neonicotinoid pesticides
  • Netherlands
  • Nitro Compounds
  • Nitro Compounds: pharmacology
  • North America
  • Nosema
  • Nosema: metabolism
  • Oilseed rape
  • Ovary development
  • Pest management
  • Phase-Contrast
  • Plants
  • Pollen
  • Pollen collection
  • Pollen: metabolism
  • Pollination
  • Pollination: drug effects
  • Population Dynamics
  • Pulse exposure
  • Pyrethrins
  • Pyrethrins: pharmacology
  • Pyrethroid
  • RFID technology
  • Recovery
  • Social Behavior
  • Social Dominance
  • Sublethal effects
  • Survival Analysis
  • Systemic uptake
  • Thiamethoxam
  • Toxic nectar
  • Xylem fluid
  • beeswax
  • bisphosphatase
  • bombus
  • competition
  • do not
  • environment
  • enzyme
  • flight muscle
  • france
  • fructose-1
  • futile cycle
  • honeybee bumble bee Bombus terrestris neonicotinoi
  • introgression
  • maximal rates of heat
  • parasites
  • pathogens
  • pesticide residues
  • phosphofructokinase
  • production by cycling
  • thermogenesis
  • varroa treatment

Get free article suggestions today

Mendeley saves you time finding and organizing research

Sign up here
Already have an account ?Sign in

Find this document


  • L P Belzunces

  • J. M. Bonmatin

  • M Chagnon

  • C Downs

  • Jacobus C Biesmeijer

  • S P M Roberts

Cite this document

Choose a citation style from the tabs below

Save time finding and organizing research with Mendeley

Sign up for free