Assessing the comparative risk of plant protection products to honey bees, non-target arthropods and non-Apis bees

  • Mark J. Miles
  • Anne Alix


Background: In the European Union the placing of pesticides on the market requires as a prerequisite that a risk assessment demonstrates low risks to human health and the environment, among which includes pollinators. Currently risks are evaluated for honey bees and for non-target arthropods (NTA) of cultivated ecosystems. The actual protection of pollinators other than the honey bees, as for example for non-Apis bees, in relation to these risk assessments has recently been questioned and requires further investigation. We present the findings from a comparison of Hazard Quotient (HQ) value calculations to assess the risk to honey bees, non-target arthropods and to non-Apis bees (with the application of an additional safety factor of 10). Calculations were based on publicly available ecotoxicological data.

Results: The risk to NTA, honey bees and non-Apis bees, as depicted by HQ values, indicated a higher fail rate for NTA than for bees, but a similar pass / fail rate for non-Apis bees when compared to the NTA scheme. Outcome of the risk assessment for NTA using extended laboratory tests gave similar pass/fail rates compared to the screening step for honey bees.

Conclusion: A screening step for non-Apis bees could be developed based on data available on honey bees and NTAs.

Keywords: risk assessment, non-Apis bees, pollinators, pesticides, non-target arthropods

I. Regulatory issues: honey bee risk for pesticides in Europe