Analysis of Honey Bee Hive Products as a Model for Monitoring Pesticide Usage in Agroecosystems

Janet Irungu, Ayuka T. Fombong, Justus Kurgat, Protus Mulati, Juliette Ongus, Kiatoko Nkoba, Suresh Raina


Global food and nutritional security majorly rely on honey bees for pollination. Furthermore, honey bees (Apis mellifera), are considered as reliable biological indicators of environmental contamination because they pick up chemical pollutants in the air or in flowers as they search for food. As a result, the honey bee colony environment acts as a reservoir for a diversity of resources of floral origin and therefore analyzing hive products is more cost effective compared to monitoring individual crops. Effective methods for monitoring agrochemicals contamination in the environment can therefore be achieved by continuous analysis of honey bee products. We investigated pesticide residues in honey and pollen collected from honey bee hives in various agro-ecological zones across Kenya over a period of two years (September 2013 to August 2015) to determine the circulating organic chemical pollutants in the environment. A total of 36 pesticide residues were detected belonging to three chemical classes; insecticides (>50%) fungicides (27%) and herbicides (20%) with majority of the pesticides detected in pollen compared to honey. Although herbicides appeared to be the least prevalent, they were detected at the highest concentrations of up to 356 ppb in honey compared to insecticides which were detected at fairly low concentrations (0.1 to 53 ppb). Our findings highlight the need to create greater awareness of the ecological consequences of wide scale use of agro-chemicals in agriculture. 

Keywords: Pesticide residues, honey bees (Apis mellifera), honey and pollen

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ISSN (Paper)2224-3216 ISSN (Online)2225-0948

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