The Bees' Burden

An analysis of pesticide residues in comb pollen and trapped pollen from honey bees in 12 European countries

Publication - 16 April, 2014
This study reports concentrations of pesticides found in pollen brought back to hives by foraging bees, and sampled using pollen traps or direct from the comb. This is one of the most extensive studies of pesticides in bee-collected pollen carried out to date.

Twenty-five samples of comb pollen stored over winter from the 2012 foraging season were obtained from locations in seven European countries, and subsequently 107 samples of trapped pollen  from the 2013 foraging season were obtained from locations in 12 European countries and analysed at an accredited laboratory. In terms of the geographical areas covered, and the numbers of samples taken simultaneously, this is one of the most extensive studies of pesticides in bee-collected pollen carried out to date.

Residues of at least one of 53 pesticides were identified in trapped pollen samples, while residues of at least one of 17 pesticides were identified in samples of comb pollen (beebread).

The results of this study indicate that current regulation of pesticides may not be adequately protective of pollinator populations. This study points to the need to progressively reduce and eliminate the exposure of bees to the cocktail of toxic agrochemicals to which they may be exposed throughout their lifecycle, and to move towards ecological farming methods.

The Bees' Burden

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