Pesticide Contamination of Bees: Determing the Diversity and Concentration of Compounds found in Hives Located across Ohio Agricultural Landscapes

Project Overview

Project Type: Graduate Student
Funds awarded in 2013: $9,980.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2015
Grant Recipient: The Ohio State University
Region: North Central
State: Ohio
Graduate Student:
Faculty Advisor:
Mary Gardiner
The Ohio State University
Faculty Advisor:
Larry Phelan
Ohio State University

Annual Reports


  • Animals: bees


  • Animal Production: general animal production
  • Education and Training: participatory research
  • Production Systems: agroecosystems
  • Sustainable Communities: public participation

    Proposal abstract:

    Pesticide Contamination of Bees: Determining the Diversity and Concentration of Compounds found in Hives Located across Ohio Agricultural Landscapes. Across the world, pollinator decline has emerged as a significant threat to the sustainability of fruit and vegetable crop production. Pesticide use is often cited as a contributor to pollinator decline; however beekeepers and growers often do not know if pesticide exposure is affecting the health of their bees or the quality of the pollination services they provide. Furthermore there is little evidence as to the mechanisms influencing pesticide impacts on pollinator health. We aim to measure the diversity and concentration of pesticides found on two species of managed pollinators: the European honey bee (Apis mellifera) and the common eastern bumble bee (Bombus impatiens) foraging in Ohio landscapes. We aim to understand how the Ohio landscapes in which these bees forage influence their likelihood of contamination. This will be the first study to investigate the role of landscape in pesticide exposure of pollinators. To obtain these data we will collect samples of foraging honey bees and bumble bees from beekeepers across Ohio. We will analyze these samples for over 300 pesticides including insecticides, fungicides and herbicides using the recently developed QuEChERS method (so named because it is considered Quick, Easy, Cheap, Effective, Rugged, and Safe). We will relate the diversity and concentration of pesticides found within each bee and provision sample to the structure of the landscape surrounding each hive at a radius of 3 kilometers (estimated foraging range of A. mellifera and B. impatiens) using ground-verified aerial photographs. We will communicate our findings to beekeepers and fruit and vegetable producers via our website ( as well as workshops hosted by Ohio beekeeping associations and grower organizations. This study will contribute to NCR-SARE’s broad-based goals by providing beekeepers, fruit and vegetable growers, and extension agents with information regarding the effects of pesticide management practices on pollinators. This information will prove useful in encouraging best management practices and enhancing environmental quality in agroecosystems.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    This project will evaluate the influence of agricultural landscape composition on the risk of pesticide exposure sustained by pollinators. The short-term outcomes of this study will be an increased understanding of the diversity and concentrations of pesticides that pollinators encounter while foraging in landscapes that vary in composition and heterogeneity. The information will be spread directly to our participants as well as on our website. Our intermediate outcomes will include dissemination of this information to our stakeholders through workshops, increasing interest in improving pesticide application decision making, and improving the capabilities of beekeepers to protect their hives from pesticide exposures. These will practices will culminate in the long-term outcomes of healthier pollinators, predictable pollination services, and sustainable fruit and vegetable production.

    Outreach is already under way! A presentation on this project was given at the 2015 NCR-SARE Farmers Forum, held in conjunction with the Northern Plains Sustainable Agriculture Society (NPSAS) Winter Conference. A video of this presenation is available online through NCR-SARE's YouTube channel at:

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.