Chronic exposure to the pesticide flupyradifurone can lead to premature onset of foraging in honeybees Apis mellifera.
Honeybees Apis mellifera and other pollinating insects suffer from pesticides in agricultural landscapes. Flupyradifurone is the active ingredient of a novel pesticide by the name of 'Sivanto', introduced by Bayer AG (Crop Science Division, Monheim am Rhein, Germany). It is recommended against sucking insects and marketed as 'harmless' to honeybees. Flupyradifurone binds to nicotinergic acetylcholine receptors like neonicotinoids, but it has a different mode of action. So far, little is known on how sublethal flupyradifurone doses affect honeybees. We chronically applied a sublethal and field-realistic concentration of flupyradifurone to test for long-term effects on flight behaviour using radio-frequency identification. We examined haematoxylin/eosin-stained brains of flupyradifurone-treated bees to investigate possible changes in brain morphology and brain damage. A field-realistic flupyradifurone dose of approximately 1.0 μg/bee/day significantly increased mortality. Pesticide-treated bees initiated foraging earlier than control bees. No morphological damage in the brain was observed. Synthesis and applications. The early onset of foraging induced by a chronical application of flupyradifurone could be disadvantageous for honeybee colonies, reducing the period of in-hive tasks and life expectancy of individuals. Radio-frequency identification technology is a valuable tool for studying pesticide effects on lifetime foraging behaviour of insects.