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Research article2024Peer reviewedOpen access

Pesticide use negatively affects bumble bees across European landscapes

Nicholson, Charlie C.; Knapp, Jessica; Kiljanek, Tomasz; Albrecht, Matthias; Chauzat, Marie-Pierre; Costa, Cecilia; De la Rua, Pilar; Klein, Alexandra-Maria; Maend, Marika; Potts, Simon G.; Schweiger, Oliver; Bottero, Irene; Cini, Elena; de Miranda, Joachim R.; Di Prisco, Gennaro; Dominik, Christophe; Hodge, Simon; Kaunath, Vera; Knauer, Anina; Laurent, Marion;
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Sustainable agriculture requires balancing crop yields with the effects of pesticides on non-target organisms, such as bees and other crop pollinators. Field studies demonstrated that agricultural use of neonicotinoid insecticides can negatively affect wild bee species1,2, leading to restrictions on these compounds3. However, besides neonicotinoids, field-based evidence of the effects of landscape pesticide exposure on wild bees is lacking. Bees encounter many pesticides in agricultural landscapes4-9 and the effects of this landscape exposure on colony growth and development of any bee species remains unknown. Here we show that the many pesticides found in bumble bee-collected pollen are associated with reduced colony performance during crop bloom, especially in simplified landscapes with intensive agricultural practices. Our results from 316 Bombus terrestris colonies at 106 agricultural sites across eight European countries confirm that the regulatory system fails to sufficiently prevent pesticide-related impacts on non-target organisms, even for a eusocial pollinator species in which colony size may buffer against such impacts10,11. These findings support the need for postapproval monitoring of both pesticide exposure and effects to confirm that the regulatory process is sufficiently protective in limiting the collateral environmental damage of agricultural pesticide use.Results from 316 Bombus terrestris colonies at 106 agricultural sites across eight European countries find pesticides in bumble bee pollen to be associated with reduced colony performance, especially in areas of intensive agriculture.

Published in

2024, Volume: 628, number: 8007, pages: 355–358

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Environmental Sciences related to Agriculture and Land-use

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