‘Realistic’ exposure to insecticide sulfoxaflor poses no notable risk to honeybees, study shows

Credit: Dominik Scythe/Unsplash
Credit: Dominik Scythe/Unsplash

Recent evidence suggests that one of the most prominent replacements of the banned neonicotinoids – the insecticide sulfoxaflor – harms bees and that fungicides may have been overlooked as a driver of bee declines. Realistic-exposure studies are, however, lacking. 

Here, we assess the impact of the insecticide Closer (active ingredient: sulfoxaflor) and the widely used fungicide Amistar (a.i.: azoxystrobin) on honeybees in a semi-field study (10 flight cages containing a honeybee colony, for each of three treatments: Closer, Amistar, Control). The products were applied according to label instructions either before (Closer) or during (Amistar) the bloom of purple tansy. 

We found no significant effects of Closer or Amistar on honeybee colony development or foraging activity. Our study suggests that these pesticides pose no notable risk to honeybees when applied in isolation, following stringent label instructions. The findings on Closer indicate that a safety-period of 5-6 days between application and bloom, which is only prescribed in a few EU member states, may prevent its impacts on honeybees.

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However, to conclude whether Closer and Amistar can safely be applied, further realistic-exposure studies should examine their effects in combination with other chemical or biological stressors on various pollinator species.

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