Assessment of pesticides risk for bees: methods for PNEC measurements

  • Janine Kievits
  • Martin Dermine
  • Jose-Anne Lortsch
  • Coralie Mouret
  • Noa Simon-Delso


Background: An individual honeybee shows a complex behavioral structure. Each bee takes part in the collective behavioral set up that ensures bee colony survival and development. Contaminants are likely to have effects on individual bees’ behavior with consequences at the level of the whole colony. They also are likely to alter bees’ physiology, including lifespan, fertility or fecundity, leading to colony weakness or colony collapse.

Results: Peer-reviewed scientific literature provides a wide range of methods used for testing honeybees’ behavioral or physiological parameters. Apart from alterations that may appear during the conduction of acute or chronic toxicity tests, specific tests could be conducted to complement the risk assessment in order to evaluate the impact of sublethal doses of contaminants on bees. Such tests can be developed both in laboratory conditions or as part of the semi-field and field tests that are currently required as higher tier tests of risk assessment schemes.

Conclusion: The purpose of this work is to review some of these methods and discuss their relevance in the evaluation of pesticide active substances and/or products in view to propose their future inclusion in pesticides risk assessment to bees.

Keywords: honey bee, sublethal effects, risk assessment

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