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Ring testing: develop and refine testing methods and guidelines, focusing on Bombus spp. (bumblebees) and Osmia spp. (solitary bees)

By July 2, 2024No Comments

In 2013, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) published a guidance document highlighting the necessity of including various additional bee types in terrestrial ecotoxicology regulatory testing. This led to the formation of the Non-Apis Group, which comprises representatives from Contract Research Organizations (CROs), industry, and regulatory bodies. Both IES and Mambo-Tox have been integral members of this group since its inception. This collaborative effort aims to enhance the ecological risk assessment framework by including more comprehensive and representative bee testing protocols, ensuring better protection for diverse bee species in agricultural landscapes.  The group has collaborated extensively to develop and refine testing methods and guidelines, focusing on Bombus spp. (bumblebees) and Osmia spp. (solitary bees).

Achievements and Ongoing Work:

  1. Bombus spp. Bumblebees:
    • Acute Oral and Contact Studies: Published successfully.
    • Chronic Oral Test: Completed ring-testing, awaiting publication.
  2. Osmia spp. Solitary Bees:
    • Acute Oral and Contact Tests: Successfully ring-tested, awaiting publication.
    • Chronic Oral Test: Currently in the ring-testing phase. This summer, various laboratories, including IES and Mambo-Tox, are conducting these tests to standardize the protocol.

Current Osmia Ring-Testing Protocol and Objectives:

  • Objective: To establish a standardized chronic oral test for Osmia spp. that can be included in regulatory guidelines.
  • Methodology:
    • Overwintered bee pupae are allowed to emerge simultaneously.
    • Emerged adults are fed a sugar solution treated with various concentrations of dimethoate.
    • Survival is assessed over a period of 10 days.
    • For the untreated control group, the test is extended to 30 days to evaluate the feasibility of including microbial biopesticide testing in the future.

IES and Mambo-Tox Participation:

  • IES: Pupae are currently emerging, with the test scheduled to commence in early July.
  • Mambo-Tox: Encountered issues with insufficient adult emergence to conduct dimethoate treatments but managed to run the control group.

Mambo-Tox Additional Pollen Treatment Group Study:

  • Objective: In addition to the  sugar solution control and additional sugar solution + pollen treatment was tested.  This was to observe the impact of adding pollen to the sugar solution on bee survival over 30 days.
  • Results: Data is yet to be analysed. Some challenges faced included bees escaping the test arenas and others getting stuck and dying in the lid edges.

Comparative Insights:

  • Previous Study by IES: An analogous study with honeybees indicated that adults fed a solution of honey and pollen survived longer than those fed only a sugar solution. This insight could potentially apply to the Osmia spp. study, highlighting the importance of nutritional supplementation in chronic survival tests.

Next Steps:

  1. Publication and Standardization: Complete the ring-testing, analyse the data from the who Group and use this to publish the standardized guidelines for chronic oral testing of Osmia spp., incorporating any necessary adjustments based on the summer’s testing results.