Bumble bee semi-field studies: choice and management of colonies to reduce variability in assessment endpoints
The publication of the proposed EFSA risk assessment for pollinators resulted in an increasing demand for experiments with non-Apis pollinators (EFSA 2013). However, no official guideline for the standardized semifield trials exists so far. To overcome this lack of guidance, the development of semi-field study designs are under way. The methodology is concurrently be developed by an ICPPR working group (non-Apis working group). A major challenge in higher tier studies is the variability of the different endpoints. Hive development and particularly the production of young queens are very variable (Cabrera et al. 2016). With the current knowledge it seemed crucial to select appropriate colonies for the tests to reduce variability. The aim was to evaluate different strategies for the selection of bumble bee colonies and to improve the data quality with regard to the most important endpoints in bumble bee semi-field studies.