Assessing honey bee (Hymenoptera: Apidae) foraging populations and the potential impact of pesticides on Eight U.S. Crops

Maryann T. Frazier, Chris A. Mullin, Jim L. Frazier, Sara A. Ashcraft, Tim W. Leslie, Eric C. Mussen, Frank A. Drummond

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Beekeepers who use honey bees (Apis mellifera L.) for crop pollination services, or have colonies making honey on or in close proximity to agricultural crops, are concerned about the reductions of colony foragers and ultimate weakening of their colonies. Pesticide exposure is a potential factor in the loss of foragers. During 2009-2010, we assessed changes in the field force populations of 9-10 colonies at one location per crop on each of the eight crops by counting departing foragers leaving colonies at regular intervals during the respective crop blooming periods. The number of frames of adult bees was counted before and after bloom period. For pesticide analysis, we collected dead and dying bees near the hives, returning foragers, crop flowers, trapped pollen, and corn-flowers associated with the cotton crop. The number of departing foragers changed over time in all crops except almonds; general patterns in foraging activity included declines (cotton), noticeable peaks and declines (alfalfa, blueberries, cotton, corn, and pumpkins), and increases (apples and cantaloupes). The number of adult bee frames increased or remained stable in all crops except alfalfa and cotton. A total of 53 different pesticide residues were identified in samples collected across eight crops. Hazard quotients (HQ) were calculated for the combined residues for all crop-associated samples and separately for samples of dead and dying bees. A decrease in the number of departing foragers in cotton was one of the most substantial crop-associated impacts and presented the highest pesticide risk estimated by a summed pesticide residue HQ.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2141-2152
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of economic entomology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1 2015


  • Honey bee
  • Multiresidue analysis
  • Pesticide
  • Pollination
  • Toxicity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology
  • Insect Science


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