Pesticide effects on pollen bees

A recent study has led to interesting results, connected to the ongoing climate crisis

by Lorenzo Ciotti
Pesticide effects on pollen bees
© Chris McGrath / Staff Getty Images

Bees are part of a genus of social insects of the Apidae family. It is the only genus of the Apini tribe. Two of the species included in the genus can be managed by humans, namely Apis mellifera and Apis cerana. Apis mellifera or cirioides, widespread in all continents except the Arctic and Antarctic areas, is the only one known in Europe. Apis cerana is smaller in size, however, and has its habitat in the Middle and Far East, in particular in: Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Siberia, China and Japan.

The killer bee is a very aggressive species obtained from the natural cross of the scutellata honey bee with the mellifera mellifera and the mellifera ligustica, it is an alien species brought by the biologist Warwick Estevam kerr to South America and the bee has migrated to North America. The Apis dorsata resides especially in India and South-East Asia, it is not a domestic species, it has the particularity of building the open honeycomb and is of considerable size so much so as to deserve the name of giant bee of India.

Bee© Justin Sullivan / Staff Getty Images

But what is the impact of the climate crisis on all the other Non-Apis Bee?

The study Pesticide Exposure and Effects on Non- Apis Bees, published in the Annual review of entomology, explained:

"Bees are essential pollinators of many crops and wild plants, and pesticide exposure is a major environmental stressor affecting their health in human-modified landscapes. Until recently, nearly all information on the pathways and impacts of pesticide exposure came from honey bees, at least in part because they were the only model species required for environmental risk assessments (ERAs) for pollinating insects. Recently, there has been a surge in research activity focused on pesticide exposure and effects for non-Apis bees, including other social bees (bumblebees and stingless bees) and solitary bees. These taxa vary substantially from honey bees and from each other in several important ecological traits, including spatial and temporal activity patterns, foraging and nesting requirements, and degree of sociality.

In this article, we review the current evidence base on pesticide exposure pathways and the consequences of exposure for non-Apis bees. We find that insights into non-Apis bee pesticide exposure and the resulting impacts on biological organizations, landscapes, mixtures, and multiple stressors are still in their infancy. The good news is that there are many promising approaches that could be used to advance our understanding, with priority given to informing exposure pathways, extrapolating effects, and determining how well our current insights (limited to very few species and mostly neonicotinoid insecticides under unrealistic conditions) can be generalized to the diversity of species and lifestyles in the global bee community. We conclude that future research to expand our knowledge would also be useful for ERAs and broader policy decisions regarding pollinator conservation and pesticide regulation."