Interaction between pesticides and other factors in effects on bees
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14 September 2012
Bees are important pollinators of both managed crops and wild flora. An overview of the interactions between pesticides and other factors in effects on bees considered: 1) The importance of the different exposure routes in relation to the overall exposure of bees to pesticides; 2) Multiple exposure to pesticides (including substances used in bee medication) and potential additive and cumulative effects; and 3) Interactions between diseases and susceptibility of bees to pesticides. Nectar foraging bees are likely to experienced highest exposure to both sprayed and systemic seed and soil treatments compounds followed by nurse and brood-attending bees. In both cases the major contribution to exposure was contaminated nectar with direct overspray playing a significant role in exposure. However, there are a variety of other routes (and other bee species) where there is currently insufficient data to fully total exposure: There are a large number of studies that have investigated the interactions between pesticides in bees. By far the majority have related to the interactions involving EBI fungicides and can be related to their inhibition of P450. The scale of the synergy is shown to be dose and season-dependent in acute exposures but there are few data relating to the effect of time between exposures, the effect of route of exposure or on chronic exposure effects at realistic exposure levels. There are a wide range of factors which affect the immunocompetence of bees including diet quality, pest and diseases. Although there are a limited number of laboratory based studies which suggest effects of a pesticide on disease susceptibility there is no clear evidence from field-based studies that exposure of colonies to pesticides results in increased susceptibility to disease or that there is a link between colony loss due to disease and pesticide residues in monitoring studies.
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