Pesticides in Canadian Honey Bee Colonies

Honey bee colonies were placed in several agricultural regions across Canada. The nectar and bee bread of the colonies were tested for a panel of over 200 pesticides throughout the growing seasons of 2020 and 2021. Here we provide a summary of common pesticides detected based on a preliminary analysis of the data.

In the South Coast region of British Columbia, honey bee colonies in cranberry, highbush blueberry crops and control sites were assessed. Two fungicides, fluopyram and pyrimethanil, and the insecticide flupyradifurone were commonly found in colonies. Other compounds detected include: 7 fungicides (boscalid, difenoconazole, dimethomorph, fenhexamid, mandipropamid, metconazole, and pyraclostrobin), 5 herbicides (diuron, linuron, mefenacet, napropamide, and tralkoxydim), 11 insecticides (acetamiprid, chlorantraniliprole, clothianidin, dimethoate, flonicamid, imidacloprid, methoxyfenozide, novaluron, omethoate, spirotetramat, and thiamethoxam), and 2 acaricides (coumaphos and methomyl).

In the Peace and South regions of Alberta, honey bee colonies in canola oil, canola seed crops, and control sites were assessed. Two neonicotinoid insecticides, thiamethoxam and clothianidin, and the fungicide boscalid were most common in colonies. Other compounds detected include: 9 fungicides (difenoconazole, fenamidone, fluopyram, mandipropamid, metconazole, picoxystrobin, prothioconazole, pyraclostrobin, pyrimethanil), 1 herbicide (tralkoxydim), 6 insecticides (chlorantraniliprole, dimethoate, flupyradifurone, imidacloprid, omethoate, spirotetramat), and 1 acaricide (coumaphos).

In the Eastman and Central Plains regions of Manitoba, honey bee colonies in canola oil, soybean crops, and control sites were assessed. Two fungicides, boscalid and thiophanate-methyl, and the insecticide chlorantraniliprole were most common in colonies. Other compounds detected include: 5 fungicides (carbendazim, metconazole, picoxystrobin, prothioconazole, and pyraclostrobin), 5 insecticides (carbaryl, clothianidin, dimethoate, omethoate, thiamethoxam), and 1 acaricide (coumaphos).

In the Central and Southwestern regions of Ontario, honey bee colonies in corn crops and control sites were assessed. Three insecticides, chlorantraniliprole, cyantraniliprole, and clothianidin were most common in colonies. Other compounds detected include: 4 fungicides (boscalid, mandipropamid, picoxystrobin, pyraclostrobin), 1 herbicide (napropamide), 4 insecticides (chlorantraniliprole, clothianidin, cyantraniliprole, and spinetoram), and 1 acaricide (coumaphos).

In the Centre-du-Québec and Capitale-Nationale regions of Québec, honey bee colonies in cranberry, lowbush blueberry, apple crops, and control sites were assessed. The insecticide chlorantraniliprole, and the acaricide coumaphos were most common in colonies. Other compounds detected include: 7 fungicides (boscalid, difenoconazole, fenhexamid, fluopyram, picoxystrobin, pyraclostrobin, pyrimethanil), 2 herbicides (linuron and mefenacet), 1 acaricide (bifenazate), and 9 insecticides (clothianidin, cyantraniliprole, imidacloprid, methoxyfenozide, spinetoram, spinosyn A and D, tebufenozide, thiamethoxam).

A full analysis of the pesticide levels and their potential impact on honey bee health will be published by the BeeCSI team in the future.

Comparative Infographics: Impacts of Covid-19 on Beekeepers in the U.S. and Canada in 2020

In February 2022 we collaboratively published “The Impacts of Covid-19 on Beekeeping Operations in Canada and the United States” in the American Bee Journal.

The following comparative infographic, accompanied the article, highlighting similar and different ways beekeepers were affected in 2020 as the debut of the pandemic disrupted regular social and economic activities.

• “The Impacts of Covid-19 on Beekeeping Operations in Canada and the United States”. American Bee Journal. February 2022, Volume 162, No.2. Bixby, Miriam; Payne, Alexandria; Polinsky, Matthew; Guarna, Marta; and Rangel, Juliana.

Infographics on the Impacts of Covid-19 on Canadian Beekeeping in 2020

These two infographic pages were first published in separate parts as “Impacts of Covid-19 on Canadian Beekeeping in 2020” (Part I and II), alongside articles of the corresponding titles, in the Canadian Honey Council magazine, Hivelights, in the Summer and Fall 2021 issues.

The survey data was collected in the winter 2020/2021 with 205 respondents participating from eight Canadian provinces: BC, AB, SK, MB, ON, QC, NB, NS. 

Our peer-reviewed article “Impacts of COVID-19 on Canadian Beekeeping: Survey Results and a Profitability Analysis”  was published in the Journal of Economic Entomology: doi: 10.1093/jee/toab180

BeeCSI launches at Apimondia 2019

The BeeCSI team had an inaugural meeting in Montreal this September at Apimondia 2019 to discuss and develop a standardized experimental plan for the project and to delegate specific tasks to each research team involved.

The team plans to develop a diagnostic tool that will assist in the assessment of honey bee health by sampling a small number of individuals and testing biomarkers using gene expression profiling. The proposed tool will allow for the diagnosis of stressors that are directly impacting honey bee health in a specific colony. This, in turn, will allow for appropriate measures to be taken (by the beekeeper) in order to reduce the number of losses and help the colony recover. The pilot project, which will take place at YorkU, will focus on two main stressors: chronic exposure levels of Neonicotinoids and pathogen spillover in Deformed Wing Virus (DWV).

BeeCSI team poses for photo at inaugural meeting during Apimondia 2019 in Montreal, Canada

The BeeCSI team consists of 22 researchers from across the country, representing institutions like Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC), University of Manitoba, University of Guelph and University of Laval (and York University).

How will BeeCSI tools be used to improve bee health?

Beekeepers can apply the tools in many different contexts to help guide short-term and future management strategies. The former requires a rapid turn-around time for diagnosis. Beekeepers are already accustomed to sending samples to diagnostic centers (e.g. NBDC) and the current turn-around time of two weeks is sufficient to allow beekeepers to receive a diagnosis and enact management changes during critical time points of the beekeeping season (i.e. spring buildup and after honey supers are removed in summer). We note that shorter turn-around times are expected in light of the growing accessibility and portability of ‘omics platforms. Other applications of our tools are less time sensitive, including troubleshooting the causes of health declines over space and time to better inform management actions for the upcoming field season. 

Vision for BeeCSI

We plan to develop a tool that will allow beekeepers and government regulators to quickly identify the specific stressors affecting honey bee colonies using biomarkers.

Figure 2. BeeCSI will pioneer the use of markers for diagnosis and management of bee health