Effects of neonicotinoid exposure on the strength of honey bee (Apis mellifera) colonies
Type of DegreeMaster's Thesis
Entomology and Plant Pathology
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A growing body of research continues to document and describe the unintended effects of insecticides on non-target organisms, such as insect predators, parasitoids, and pollinators. Specifically, different classes of insecticides, including neonicotinoids, have been documented to negatively influence honey bee, Apis mellifera L., health. Despite a large body of research on the effects of exposure to individual honey bees, few studies have explored effects on colony-level performance. Consequently, I sought to reduce this knowledge gap by performing colony-level experiments that examined the effects of neonicotinoids on the quantities of workers and food stores, and how colony genetic diversity may buffer such effects. Overall, results highlighted the negative effects of the neonicotinoid on all colony parameters investigated in one study, but that neither neonicotinoid exposure or genetic diversity, as managed for my experiment, had little influence on the second study. This work sheds light on the effects of field-realistic concentrations of this widely used class of insecticides on an important non-target organism.