Effectiveness of method improvements to reduce variability of brood termination rate in honey bee brood studies under semi-field conditions

  • J. Pistorius
  • R. Becker
  • J. Lückmann
  • A. Schur
  • M. Barth
  • L. Jeker
  • S. Schmitzer
  • W. von der Ohe


Quantitative assessments of adverse effects of plant protection products on honey bee brood (Apis mellifera L.) may be carried out according to the methods given by the OECD Guidance Document No. 75 (2007). In recent years a number of studies displayed a strong variability in brood termination rates, a key endpoint. Due to these variances no definite conclusions regarding potential brood effects were possible, and the studies needed to be repeated. Due to this, attempts to improve the methodology were initiated by the Working Group ‘Honey bee brood' of the German AG Bienenschutz. In 2011, honey bee brood studies adapted to these identified possible improvements resulted in better results compared to historical data. Based on the analysed results, the working group recommends to improve the method by using bigger colonies with more brood, using 4 instead of 3 replicates for better interpretation of data, starting the study early in the season, avoiding major modifications of the colonies shortly before application and using larger tunnels with effective crop areas preferably > 80 m². To carry out quicker brood cell assessments to reduce stress for the colonies, it is recommended to use digital brood assessment, which allows marking a higher number of cells (e.g. 200 to 400 cells).