Honeybees Reveal Environmental Pollution in Their Surroundings

Honeybees on a beehive frome.

Honeybee colonies are bioindicators of environmental contamination in the area, since they get coated in everything that there is in the environment, including pollutants, and they end up taking it all back to their beehives. (Image: Pexels via Pixabay)

Honeybees are bioindicators of environmental pollution in the area, since they get coated in everything that there is in the environment, including pollutants, and they end up taking it all back to their beehives. Honeybees sample a significant range of spaces, because they have a wide flight range, becoming covered with whatever build-up is in the air, water, and the ground, as well as on trees and flowers.

In addition, when they reach the hive, they also transport the nectar they have collected, which passes to the other honeybees and spreads throughout the hive. However, the use of hives to understand the state of environmental pollution involves capturing them and extracting what they have ingested and transported on the surface of their bodies. Also, sampling can be done with larvae, pollen reserves, and honey. All of this is tedious and, at times, detrimental to the hive.

Subscribe to our Newsletter!

Receive selected content straight into your inbox.

Two of the main toxic risks for honeybees come from treatments applied by beekeepers to control a parasitic mite and nearby use of plant protection products.
Two of the main toxic risks for honeybees come from treatments applied by beekeepers to control a parasitic mite and nearby use of plant protection products. (Image: via Pixabay)

With the intention to continue obtaining information about environmental pollution that honeybees can provide, and without altering the normal functioning of hives, Professor José Manuel Flores, from the Department of Zoology at the University of Cordoba, collaborated on a European project at the University of Almeria, putting APISTrip into operation, a non-invasive tool to sample contaminants in hives.

APIStrips have detected 442 kinds of pesticides from honeybees

APIStrip (Adsorb Pesticide In-hive Strip) is based on the use of a polystyrene strip upon which a concentrated solution of Tenax is applied, a product that can be used to collect samples that honeybees carry and later, adsorbed pesticides and pollutants on the surface are extracted and analyzed. To date, with this method, up to 442 kinds of pesticides have been detected.

With the Denmark sampling, up to 40 different pesticide residues were found from environmental pollution.
With the Denmark sampling, up to 40 different pesticide residues were found. (Image: via Pixabay)

When validating this technology, they have performed field studies in Cordoba and in Denmark. Professor José Manuel Flores led several APIStrip trials in the bee colony at the Rabanales Campus, testing different quantities of the product, different placements of the strip, and different durations the APIStrip was left in the hives. They determined that the ideal method to extract contaminants is using a 5 x 10 cm strip with 1g of Tenax for 14 days.

Two of the main toxic risks for honeybees come from treatments applied by beekeepers to control a parasitic mite and nearby use of plant protection products. With the Denmark sampling, up to 40 different pesticide residues were found. With this methodology, honeybees become sample collectors of their surroundings and bioindicators of environmental contamination without suffering any disruptions to their normal routine, thus allowing us to understand the environmental conditions of their surroundings and plan actions to improve environmental health. The study was published in the Science of The Total Environment.

Provided by: University of Córdoba [Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.]

Follow us on TwitterFacebook, or Pinterest

Recommended Stories

Rare snowfall in Joshua Tree National Park

Rare Snow Covers Joshua Tree National Park

The dry landscape of Joshua Tree National Park was covered in layers of white due ...

Computer programmers.

Front-end Development in 4 Steps

Changing careers might be daunting. However, pursuing more than one job route throughout your lifetime ...

Mother helping her young daughter with a school lesson.

A Simple Guide for Homeschooling: Parents and Students

While most children attend public or private schools, an increasing percentage are homeschooled. Learn more ...

Tian Han (R) and

Tian Han, the Persecuted Writer of China’s National Anthem

China’s now-beloved national anthem March of the Volunteers was written in 1931 by lyricist Tian ...

A Chinese paddlefish.

One of the World’s Oldest and Largest Fish Is Now Extinct

Chinese paddlefish, which reached up to 23 feet in length, have become extinct according to ...

Trees growing in a shallow lake.

A Very Rare Turtle Just Died, Pushing the Species Close to Extinction

On April 12, a female Yangtze giant softshell turtle died in the Suzhou Shangfangshan Forest ...

A slider turtle.

Chinese Flight Crew Arrested for Smuggling Endangered Turtles

On June 21, two China Eastern Airlines crew members were arrested at Los Angeles International ...

A Uyghur father and son sharing with a friend.

Chinese Government Now Forcing Uyghurs to Use Sinicized Furniture

In what seems like a bizarre demand, the Chinese regime is now asking the Uyghur ...

Three Uyghur children.

Over Half a Million Uyghur Children Separated From Their Parents

Beijing’s persecution of Uyghurs is not only affecting adults but also Uyghur children, according to ...

Send this to a friend