Short communication. First field assessment of Bacillus thuringiensis subsp. kurstaki aerial application on the colony performance of Apis mellifera L. (Hymenoptera: Apidae)

Maria del Mar Leza Salord, Gregori Llado, Ana Belen Petro, Ana Alemany


Honeybee populations around the world are experiencing a decrease in colony numbers probably due to a combination of different causes, such as diseases, poor nutrition and frequent applications of insecticides to control pests. Previous studies about the effect of pesticide Bacillus thuringiensis subsp. kurstaki (Btk) on Apis mellifera L. report different results. The aim of this study was to analyze the effect of field aerial applications of Btk on bee colony performance, specifically on the brood cell percentage evolution, which can be used as an indicator of queen health and brood development breeding rates. To achieve it, the brood cell surface was photographed in every sampling, and data were analyzed using a method based on image treatment software. A total of 480 pictures were examined from two groups of four nucleus hives in two areas, one receiving aerial spraying with Btk and the other without treatment. A mixed factorial design was realized to analyse the data showing no differences in colony performance between the two groups of colonies either before the treatment, during and at the end of the assay. Furthermore, the brood surface ratio of Btk-treated/untreated increased along the experiment. Therefore, the results of the present study suggest that Btk aerial applications did not affect the brood development of honeybees under natural conditions. Nevertheless further field studies are required to ascertain a safe use of Btk in forest pest management.


honeybee; Btk; field study; Balearic Islands; forest management; impact

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DOI: 10.5424/sjar/2014122-5056