Chronic exposure to neonicotinoids reduces honey bee health near corn crops

Science. 2017 Jun 30;356(6345):1395-1397. doi: 10.1126/science.aam7470.


Experiments linking neonicotinoids and declining bee health have been criticized for not simulating realistic exposure. Here we quantified the duration and magnitude of neonicotinoid exposure in Canada's corn-growing regions and used these data to design realistic experiments to investigate the effect of such insecticides on honey bees. Colonies near corn were naturally exposed to neonicotinoids for up to 4 months-the majority of the honey bee's active season. Realistic experiments showed that neonicotinoids increased worker mortality and were associated with declines in social immunity and increased queenlessness over time. We also discovered that the acute toxicity of neonicotinoids to honey bees doubles in the presence of a commonly encountered fungicide. Our work demonstrates that field-realistic exposure to neonicotinoids can reduce honey bee health in corn-growing regions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bees / drug effects*
  • Bees / growth & development
  • Canada
  • Colony Collapse*
  • Crops, Agricultural
  • Insecticides / toxicity
  • Larva / drug effects
  • Nitro Compounds / toxicity
  • Pollen / chemistry
  • Zea mays


  • Insecticides
  • Nitro Compounds

Associated data

  • Dryad/10.5061/dryad.p039j