Study adds evidence of bee pesticide exposure

Posted: March 25, 2010

A study led by researchers in the Department of Entomology provides additional evidence that pesticide exposure may be contributing to honey bee health issues, including Colony Collapse Disorder.

The study, published in the online journal PLOS (Public Library of Science) One, was led by Chris Mullin, professor of entomology. In an analysis of hives across the United States and Canada, the researchers found "unprecendented" levels of chemicals used by beekeepers to fight parasitic mites, as well as pesticides used to protect crops. Some of these chemicals by themselves are toxic to bees at sublethal levels, and when combined could have more serious consequences.

College of Agricultural Sciences researchers who participated in the study included Maryann Frazier, senior extension associate in entomology; James Frazier, professor of entomology; Sara Ashcraft, research technician in entomology; and Dennis vanEngelsdorp, senior extension associate in entomology and acting state apiarist for the Pa. Department of Agriculture. Other co-authors were Roger Simonds and Jeffery Pettis of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

An article summarizing the research is available in the online version of Science News magazine.