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Honey bees to monitor agrochemicals

Honey bees to monitor agrochemicals

Researchers from FAUBA work with this important technique to test the possible risks of poisoning from the use of pesticides and determine eco-toxicological loads in the landscape.

Despite the fact that currently in Latin America there are about eight million hives of honey bees in production (10% existing in the world); and about 230 thousand tons of honey are produced per year, the growing loss of pollinators worries worldwide, because it affects both crop production and the maintenance of natural ecosystems.

In recent decades, with the intensification of agricultural systems, the mechanization of agricultural practices and the systematic use of agrochemicals have increased. To determine eco-toxicological loads in the landscape, researchers from the Faculty of Agronomy of the UBA work applying the monitoring technique withApis mellifera (honey-producing bees).

“The relationship between flowering plants (angioperms) and bees is essential for pollination, both in natural environments and in crops.Apis mellifera stands out for having numerous colonies that adapt to different environments, therefore, it is the most common assisted pollination tool, for example, in crops of almonds, blueberries, strawberries, apples, sunflower, onion and carrot for seed ", said Dr. Alicia Mabel Basilio, researcher and teacher of the Chair of Poultry, Rabbit and Beekeeping at FAUBA. Basilio explained that, due to its morphological and ethological characteristics, the domestic bee can be considered an excellent biological indicator.

Thus, taking advantage of these characteristics of bees, FAUBA carried out a study in which Professor Claudio Ghersa from the Chair of Ecology, Dr. Gonzalo Molina and Dr. Alicia Mabel Basilio participated. They placed monitoring stations and hives with traps to collect dead bees, within the City of Buenos Aires and in agricultural fields of Pergamino (Province of Buenos Aires). When obtaining a threshold number of dead bees (approximately 40 individuals), laboratory analyzes were carried out.

Chemical monitoring and analysis techniques allowed them to identify the presence of different pesticides and even the use of molecules that are prohibited. “By determining and quantifying agrochemical residues through the QuEChERS technique, where high-resolution gas chromatography with a mass spectrometry detector is used, we identify insecticides, herbicides and fungicides. We detected extensive use of Lambda-cyhalothrin, Acetochlor and Captan, demonstrating that urban environments are not exempt from the use of agrochemicals (Fention and Captan). Our studies also revealed the application of prohibited molecules (Endosulfan; Resolution No. 511/11) ”, the researchers explained.

According to Basilio, currently beekeeping is going through great difficulties and uncertainties of a different nature: climate change, agrochemicals, increasing sanitary and commercial problems, increasing production costs and others, “which must be considered both from our research work and during the design of the content of the classes ”.

"The beekeeping activity of most of the countries of the region does not escape the situation of uncertainty worldwide. On the one hand, populations of honey bees and other species of apids are being threatened by parasites and pathogens or more virulent variants of these, and by the excessive use of agrochemicals, the decrease in flower resources and the fragmentation of habitats. To solve the decrease in food sources for pollinators, different strategies have been proposed, such as beekeeping flora plantations, the design of multipurpose production systems such as apisilvopastoral plants, and fundamentally the prohibition of agrochemicals that cause the death of bees, recently implemented in France. ”, He assured.

The FAUBA study was presented at the XIII Latin American Beekeeping Congress Filapi 2018, held in Montevideo (Uruguay), which brought together Latin American beekeepers, cooperatives and beekeepers' unions and from other regions, companies and academic institutions linked to the beekeeping sector, and to NGOs that defend the role of the bee in ecology. "It is an area for the member countries of FILAPI to accentuate their ties and integrate other Latin American countries, since the strengthening of the federation is one of the primary tools to achieve a prosperous beekeeping in Latin America", added Basilio, citing the statements institutional.

Video: Sustainability of Honey Bees (October 2020).