Understanding Neonicotinoid Effects on Honey Bees

John Severns Wikimedia crop

Photo credit: John Severns via Wikimedia Commons

Neonicotinoids, the most widely used agricultural insecticides in Western Canada, have direct toxic effects on terrestrial and aquatic invertebrates. These neurotoxic insecticides also have broader ecosystem effects, such as decreased food availability for insectivorous fish, amphibians, birds, and small mammals. The honey bee may be an excellent model for the detection and monitoring of the biological effects of environmental neonicotinoid residues on terrestrial arthropods.

Dead bee boxes

Research apiary

This summer, Dr. Elemir Simko and his team in the Department of Veterinary Pathology at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine will develop histopathology as a tool to understand the sublethal effects of neonicotinoids on honey bees. Dr. Sarah Wood will investigate effects of neonicotinoids on the development of honey bee workers, Dr. Ivanna Kozii will examine the effects on reproductive fitness of honey bee queens, and Dr. Roman Koziy will study the impacts of neonicotinoids on disease resistance. Using microscopic evaluation of honey bee tissues, they hope to identify reliable markers for neonicotinoid exposure, which may in turn illuminate the indirect and direct impacts of these insecticides for Canadian wildlife.


Submitted by Sarah Wood, Department of Veterinary Pathology, WCVM

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