Honey bees industriously bring pollen and nectar to the hive, but along with the bounty comes a wide variety of pesticides, according to Penn State researchers. Add the outside assault to the pesticides already in the waxy structure of the hive, and bee researchers see a problem difficult to evaluate and correct. However, an innovative approach may mitigate at least some beeswax contamination.
The researchers present their analysis of pollen, brood, adult bees and wax samples today (Aug 18) at the 236th national American Chemical Society meeting in Philadelphia. Those results show unprecedented levels of fluvalinate and coumaphos -- pesticides used in the hives to combat varroa mites -- in all comb and foundation wax samples. They also found lower levels of 70 other pesticides and metabolites of those pesticides in pollen and bees.
"Everyone figured that the acaricides (anti-varroa mite chemicals) would be present in the wax because the wax is reprocessed to form the structure of the hives," says Maryann Frazier, senior extension associate. "It was a bit of a shock to see the levels and the widespread presence of these pesticides."
While the researchers expected the presence of the chemicals available to treat varroa mites in the hives, the other pesticides' levels were also surprising. All of the bees tested showed at least one pesticide and pollen averaged six pesticides with as many as 31 in a sample.
"We already had in place ways to test for viruses, bacteria and fungi, but it was difficult to find an analytical laboratory that could analyze for unknown pesticides," says Christopher A. Mullin, professor of entomology. "We needed them to take a comprehensive look at all pesticides, not just those associated with beekeeping."
They eventually turned to the National Science Laboratory of the U.S. Department of Agricultural Marketing Service that already tests commodities such as milk and fruits and vegetables to allo
|Contact: Andrea Elyse Messer|