Assessment of the impacts of microbial plant protection products containing Bacillus thuringiensis on the survival of adults and larvae of the honeybee (Apis mellifera)
This study was aimed at evaluating the effect of a microbial pest-controlling product (MPCP) with the active substance Bacillus thuringiensis ssp. aizawai (strain: ABTS-1857) on adults and larvae of honeybees. To determine the contamination levels of Bt spores in different matrices, a colony-feeding study under semi-field conditions was performed. Furthermore, two chronic adult trials and a chronic larval study were conducted under laboratory conditions to test the effects of different concentrations of the plant protection product (PPP) on the development and mortality. Possible modifications of the chronic oral toxicity test were assessed by additional pollen feeding. Our results showed that Bt spores were detected in all matrices over the entire test duration in different concentrations, decreasing over time. The survival of adult bees and larvae was negatively affected in laboratory conditions after a chronic exposure to the MPCP depending on the tested concentrations. Moreover, the earliest sign of bee mortality, resulting from exposure to ABTS-1857, was recorded only after 96 h at the highest tested concentration. Pollen feeding to adults significantly increased the survival of the treated bees. In conclusion, the PPP with the Bt strain ABTS-1857 showed an effect on the mortality of adults and larvae under laboratory conditions. Further studies with Bt-based PPPs under realistic field conditions are necessary to evaluate the potential risk of those MPCPs on honeybees.