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In a recently published article, scientists from the USGS, UC Berkeley, and UC Davis, discuss the collection of bee samples for pesticide-residue analysis. In the same locations of bee collection, they also tested pesticide residues found in flowers, soil, and from passive air samplers near field-border plantings.

Info graphic showing the various matrices sampled for this project and how bees might be exposed to pesticides.
Info graphic showing the various matrices sampled for this project and how bees might be exposed to pesticides.

The goal of the study was to determine to what extent bees might be exposed to pesticides from varying matrices. Critical for crop pollination, bee populations are declining as agricultural practices intensify. Pollinator-attractive field border plantings can increase bee diversity and abundance in agricultural areas. However, recent studies suggest these plantings may contain pesticides. To protect bees, more information is needed to improve agricultural practices and regulations.

In the research leading to this article, scientists collected bee samples which included species of wild bees and honey bees. Flowers from four types of bee-attractive field-border plants and their soil were also analyzed, and silicone bands were used as passive aerial pesticide samplers. Results showed the presence of multiple pesticides including the insecticide bifenthrin, the herbicides thiobencarb, metolaclor, and propanil, and the fungicide fluopyram.

Pesticide concentrations were lower in bees than in flowers but higher in bees than in soils. The results from this study highlight the benefits of measuring more sample types to form a more complete understanding of factors affecting bees.

Read the article: Pesticide exposure of wild bees and honey bees foraging from field border flowers in intensively managed agriculture areas.

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