High nutritional status promotes vitality of honey bees and mitigates negative effects of pesticides
Honey bee health is affected by multiple stressors, such as the exposure to plant protection products (PPPs), dietary limitation, monofloral diets and pressure of diseases and pathogens and their interactions. Here, we analysed the interacting effects of plant protection products and low nutritional pollen source on honey bee health under semi-field conditions. We established a healthy honey bee colony in each of 24 tents, planted either with monofloral maize, maize with a diverse flower strip or with monofloral Phacelia tanacetifolia. To evaluate the interaction between exposure to PPPs and nutritional status, a mixture of the insecticide thiacloprid and the fungicide prochloraz was applied. For each colony, we investigated brood capping rate as well as adult longevity, body and head weight, and enzyme activity of acetylcholinesterase and P450 reductase of newly hatched worker bees. We found a significant reduced capping rate in treated maize compared to flowering strips and Phacelia, but no interaction effect between pesticide treatment and nutritional status on capping rate. The response to treatment on the longevity of adults differed significantly between maize and Phacelia, with flower strips being intermediate, indicating interaction effects of PPP treatment and low pollen quality in maize compared to Phacelia and flowering strip treatments. Head weight of newly hatched worker bees showed significant interaction of nutritional status and treatment of PPPs. PPPs slightly increased body weight in all nutritional statuses, except for Phacelia. Enzyme activity of acetylcholinesterase and P450 reductase showed significant different responses between maize and Phacelia to PPP exposure, but not between maize and flowering strip. Our results support the hypothesis that higher pollen quality promotes development of larvae and pupae, longevity of adults and detoxification of PPPs.