Agricultural pesticides and veterinary substances in Uruguayan beeswax

Chemosphere. 2017 Jun;177:77-83. doi: 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2017.02.131. Epub 2017 Feb 28.


Over the last decade, Uruguay has expanded and intensified its rainfed crop production. This process has affected beekeeping in several ways: for example, by reducing the space available. This has increased the density of apiaries, the risk of varroosis and acaricide use. Additionally, the dominance of no-tillage crops has increased the frequencies of application and of loads of pesticides in regions where such crops share the land with beekeeping and honey production. Therefore, the exposure of bees to xenobiotics (agricultural pesticides and veterinary products) has increased in line with pollution of hives and their products. To document pollution from hive exposure to pesticides, we surveyed the presence of 30 xenobiotics normally used in Uruguay, in recycled beeswax (RB) and in honey cappings (HC) from the main Uruguayan beekeeping regions. There was contamination of all the analyzed samples (RB and HC) with the herbicide atrazine at a range of 1-2 ng g-1. At least three or four additional xenobiotics were detected: insecticides (chlorpyrifos-ethyl and thiacloprid); fungicides (azoxystrobin and tebuconazole); and veterinary products (coumaphos, ethion, and tau-fluvalinate). The frequency of detection of chlorpyrifos-ethyl and coumaphos in RB samples was higher than in those of HC. Moreover, the concentrations of azoxystrobin, coumaphos, and tebuconazole in RB samples were higher than in HC samples. Therefore, we suggest the use of HC to produce recycled printed beeswax films for use in hives to minimize pollution transfer.

Keywords: Acaricides; Beeswax; Hive health; Honey bee; Pesticides.

MeSH terms

  • Acaricides / analysis
  • Agriculture*
  • Animals
  • Beekeeping
  • Bees
  • Fungicides, Industrial / analysis
  • Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry
  • Geography
  • Herbicides / analysis
  • Honey / analysis
  • Insecticides / analysis
  • Nitriles / analysis
  • Pesticides / analysis*
  • Pyrethrins / analysis
  • Risk Assessment
  • Uruguay
  • Waxes / chemistry*
  • Xenobiotics / analysis*


  • Acaricides
  • Fungicides, Industrial
  • Herbicides
  • Insecticides
  • Nitriles
  • Pesticides
  • Pyrethrins
  • Waxes
  • Xenobiotics
  • beeswax
  • fluvalinate