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The effect of six pesticides on development, behavior and immune response in the Asian hive bee, Apis cerana.

NRC Grant:  14-061

Dr. C. I. Clayton
Institute of Fundamental Studies
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Area of Research: Molecular Biology
Status:Ongoing

 

objectives

 a) Analyse the effect of specific insecticides, fungicides and herbicides on honeybee colony growth. 

b) Analyse the effect of specific insecticides, fungicides and herbicides on honeybee behavior, specifically memory and foraging. 

c) Analyse the effect of specific insecticides, fungicides and herbicides on honeybee immunity and parasite load. 

d) Determine if there is a trade-off between immunity and memory when honeybees are exposed to insecticides, fungicides and herbicides. 

e) Analyse the effect of specific insecticides, fungicides and herbicides on honey production 

overview

 Honeybees are an ecological and agricultural commodity, in that they are responsible for 80% of insect pollination of agricultural crops.  However, declines in global bee populations have been observed for years and have resulted in adverse ecological, agricultural and economic consequences. Recent studies have implicated pesticides as a key contributor to the decline in bee population.  Such pollinator/pesticide research has been conducted mainly on Apis mellifera, a honeybee species that is non-native to Sri Lanka.  A study of how Sri Lankan bee species, such as Apis cerana, are affected by imported pesticides has yet to be conducted.  The aim of the proposed project is to analyse the effects of six pesticides on Apis cerana development, behavior, reproduction and honey production.  By conducting the proposed studies, we will have tangible data that demonstrates how pesticides affect A. cerana. This data can aid in the long-term increase of Sri Lankan agricultural output.  The benefits are not limited to increasing the agricultural output of farmers who grow crops that rely predominantly on natural pollinators, but also individuals who harvest honey and those in the beeswax industry.  Apis cerana is not only a vital part of our ecosystem but also a part of our Sri Lankan heritage and we must contribute to the conservation of this versatile species.