Pesticide residues in honeybees, honey and bee pollen by LC-MS/MS screening: reported death incidents in honeybees

Sci Total Environ. 2014 Jul 1;485-486:633-642. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2014.03.042. Epub 2014 Apr 17.


The aim of this study was to investigate reported cases of honeybee death incidents with regard to the potential interrelation to the exposure to pesticides. Thus honeybee, bee pollen and honey samples from different areas of Greece were analyzed for the presence of pesticide residues. In this context an LC-ESI-MS/MS multiresidue method of total 115 analytes of different chemical classes such as neonicotinoids, organophosphates, triazoles, carbamates, dicarboximides and dinitroanilines in honeybee bodies, honey and bee pollen was developed and validated. The method presents good linearity over the ranges assayed with correlation coefficient values r(2)≥0.99, recoveries ranging for all matrices from 59 to 117% and precision (RSD%) values ranging from 4 to 27%. LOD and LOQ values ranged - for honeybees, honey and bee pollen - from 0.03 to 23.3 ng/g matrix weight and 0.1 up to 78 ng/g matrix weight, respectively. Therefore this method is sufficient to act as a monitoring tool for the determination of pesticide residues in cases of suspected honeybee poisoning incidents. From the analysis of the samples the presence of 14 active substances was observed in all matrices with concentrations ranging for honeybees from 0.3 to 81.5 ng/g, for bee pollen from 6.1 to 1273 ng/g and for honey one sample was positive to carbendazim at 1.6 ng/g. The latter confirmed the presence of such type of compounds in honeybee body and apicultural products.

Keywords: Bee pollen; Honey; Honeybee; LC–MS/MS; Multiresidue method; Pesticides.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bees / chemistry*
  • Bees / physiology
  • Chromatography, Liquid
  • Environmental Monitoring / methods*
  • Environmental Pollutants / analysis*
  • Environmental Pollutants / chemistry
  • Greece
  • Honey / analysis*
  • Pesticide Residues / analysis*
  • Pesticide Residues / chemistry
  • Pollen / chemistry*
  • Tandem Mass Spectrometry


  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Pesticide Residues