Overview of Pesticides and Antibiotics Used in Beekeeping

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Overview of Pesticides and Antibiotics Used in Beekeeping



The aim of this article is not to give an exhaustive list of all the pesticides used in beekeeping, but to give examples of active substances with their potential effects on bees, humans and the wider environment. The data mentioned here make therefore no claim of completeness or up-to-dateness and the following table is prone to changes.

The data cover the potential effects on the pedofauna since those animals are, after bees and humans, the next to be exposed to pesticides and antibiotics used in beekeeping while those organisms are known to be particularly sensitive to pesticides and some of them may be useful to bees (see e.g. Varroa Predators on this topic).

Active Substance Commercial Products Containing the Substance Target Organisms or diseases Toxicity in Bees Risks for the Users Risks for Organisms Living in the Soil Other Environmental Effects Other Remarks
Amitraz Apivar, Antivarroa-sherring, Taktic, Apiwarol, Taktivar, Mitac Varroa Reputed of low toxicity (LD50 = 12 µ / abeille), but this have been questioned again recently. Increases mortality in imagenes and larvae. Endocrine disrupter and potential carcinogen. Reproductive, developmental and neurolotical toxicity. Highly toxic to predatory mites. Soluble in water. Slightly to moderately toxic to aquatic organisms and mammals. The substance is forbidden in the European Union for use in agriculture due to its ecotoxicity. Permitted in some countries, like France, in preparations that have been granted a "marketing authorisation". As amitraz rapidly degrades, it does not accumulate in wax nor honey, but more advanced studies have detected the persistence of amitraze metabolites in wax and honey.
Acrinathrin Gabon PA 92, Rufast Varroa Very toxic Irritant for skin and eyes. Headache, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, excessive salivation, fatigue. In severe cases: fluid in the lungs, muscle twitching. Moderately toxic to toxic for predatory mites. Toxic to very toxic to ladybugs and bedbugs, acutely toxic to aquatic organisms, slightly toxic to birds. Resistance already developed by varroa (cross-resistance to all pyrethroids). The substance is forbidden in Great Britain and it used in Beekeeping is forbidden in France.
Bromopropylate Folbex VA, Acarol Varroa Moderately toxic. Slightly toxic, irritant. Slightly to moderately toxic to predatory mites. Toxic to aquatic organisms, slightly toxic to birds. Accumulation in wax, residues in honey.
Bacillus thuringiensis (?) Wax moth Sublethal effects, digestive perturbations Skin irritation and infection, complications in immunology No known effect. See Genetically Modified Organisms.
Chlorfenvinphos (?) Varroa Acute toxicity Acute toxicity Higly toxic in Staphylinidae "Last resort" (have not been subject of enough studies).
Coumaphos Asuntol, Perizin, CheckMite+ Varroa Slightly toxic, but an increase of the mortality of adult bees has been observed during 7-days treatments. Possible sublethal larval toxicity, while residues have been detected in larval feeding jelly. Irritant, higly toxic. Possible endocrine disrupter. High risks for the user, particularly in vaporisation applications. Insufficient data. Toxic to aquatic organisms, affects development. Accumulation in wax and honey.
Cymiazole Apitol Varroa Moderately toxic, high mortality in adult bees, affects food absoption. Moderately toxic. Insufficient data. Highly toxic to aquatic organisms. Accumulation in wax, residues have been detected in honey and propolis.
Fenpyroximate Hivastan Varroa Relatively non-toxic, non-toxic if applied in the prescribed doses Irritant. Users have to gloves, a long-sleeved shirt and pants. Toxic by ingestion and inhalation. Moderately to very toxic in predatory mites. Moderately toxic to ladybugs and mammals. Developmental and reproductive toxicity in mammals. Acute toxicity to aquatic organisms. Lipophilic, thus accumulates in the wax.
Flumethrin Bayvarol Varroa Slightly toxic. Moderately toxic on ingestion. Insufficient data. Insufficient data. Accumulation in wax, residues in propolis.
Fluvalinate, tau-Fluvalinate Apistan, Klartan, Mavrick, Minadox Varroa Fluvalinate is moderately toxic, but new formulations, comprising tau-fluvalinate, to overcome the resistance developed by varroa, are known to be highly toxic. An exposure of over 7 days results in high mortality in queens. Affects the development of drones. Extremely irritant to toxic. Insufficient data. Highly toxic for aquatic organisms. Forbidden in Switzerland since the end of 2006. High level of accumulation in wax, residues in honey and propolis. On treatment with fluvalinate, varroa develops a cross-resistance with all pyrethoids (such as flumethrin, amitraz and acrinathrin).
Fumagillin Fumidil-B Nosema apis, Nosema ceranae Insufficient data Toxic when administered systemically to mammals. Mainly toxic effects on bone marrow, thrombocytopenia. – The doses used in beekeeping, if observed, should nevertheless have a negligible effect. Insufficient Data Insufficient Data There is a high probability that Nosema cerana would be able to develop rapidly a resistance to this antibiotic. The use of Fumagillin is forbidden in Europe.
Formic acid Generic, Apicure, BeeVar, Kramer, Vapidifus, Nassenheider, Mite Wipe, Mite Away II, Apidea-Applikator, Burmeister- Verdunster, Illertisser-Milbenplatte, Kombi-Am, Krämerplatte, Liebig-Dispenser, Nassenheider-Verdunster, Universalverdunster Varroa Increases bee mortality, especially at brood and hatching stage. Formic acid active substance of this list that is most fatal to bees. Blocks egg-laying for variable periods. Affects development and shortens drones lifespan. Highly irritant, flammable. Insufficient Data Affects development, mortality, histology, and population of aquatic organisms Influences the organoleptic properties of the honey, as it readily dissolves in it. To be avoided as spring treatment, since residues may have not evaporated on time for harvest.
Lactic acid Generic Varroa The workers remove 60% of the eggs from the hive after a lactic acid treatment. Bee mortality increases by four right after treatment. Irritant Insufficient data. Toxic to aquatic organisms. Negligible residues in honey.
Malathion Malathion Varroa Moderately toxic. Moderately toxic (Dizzinesss sweating, laboured breathing, abdominal cramps, diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting). Potential endocrine disruptor and carcinogen Slightly to highly toxic to predatory mites, slightly toxic to Nematodes and Lumbricidae (earthworms). Moderately to acutely for aquatic organisms, fungi, insects, molluscs, and plankton; affects development and behaviour, endocrine disruptor, bioaccumulation. Accumulation in wax, residues in honey.
Naphthalene Different brands of mothballs or crystals Wax moth Low toxicity. Confusion. Headache. Sweating. Nausea. Vomiting. Jaundice. Dark urine, abdominal pain; convulsions. Diarrhoea. Dizziness. Unconsciousness. Possible carcinogen. Chronic Effects on Soil Invertebrates (reproduction and survival). Slightly to higly toxic in insects and aquatic organisms: affects behaviour, mortality, development, reproduction, and genetics. Bioaccumulation. Residues in wax and honey.
Nitrobenzene (?) Tracheal mite Insufficient data. The substance is also used as bee repellent. Acutely toxic (Blue lips, finger nails and/or skin. Dizziness, headache, nausea, unconsciousness, weakness), carcinogen, reproductive and developmental toxicity, neurotoxicity. Very toxic to earthworms. Slightly to moderately toxic to aquatic organisms: affects growth, behaviour, growth, mortality, physiology, reproduction. Bioaccumulation. Residues in wax and honey.
Oxalic acid Generic, Bienenwohl Varroa Variable toxicity in bees according to the colony, apparently exacerbated by cold weather. Affects larval development and increases queen mortality. Highly irritant, moderate toxicity Insufficient Data Affects the growth and the behaviour of aquatic organisms, risk of intoxication. Influences the organoleptic properties of the honey, as the acid readily dissolves in it.
Oxytetracycline Oxytet, Terramycin European and American foul brood, Nosema Great mortality at all stages of brood development. Possible trigger of allergies, can in rare cases damage calcium rich organs such as teeth and bones, sometimes causes nasal cavities to erode. Applied doses in beekeeping should have negligible effects. Potentially damaging, insufficient data. Low toxicity in mammals, aquatic organisms and plants; affects reproduction, development, feeding behaviour, immunology and mortality. Bioaccumulation. Long-term persistence in the environment. Very high residue levels in honey with the current application methods. Resistance developed by the target organisms. The use of the substance is forbidden en in the European Community.
Para-dichlorobenzene / 1,4-dichlorobenzene / PDCB Wax moth Slightly toxic: Burning sensation. Cough. Drowsiness. Headache. Nausea. Shortness of breath. Vomiting. Eyes: Redness, Pain. Diarrhoea. carcinogen. Toxic in high concentrations Slightly to moderately toxic: Bioaccumulation, Behaviour and growth alteration, hormones, genetics, reproduction mortality Lipophilic, thus accumulates in the wax, contaminated combs can release PDCB into honey over MRLs.
Permethrin GuardStar Small hive beetle, ants Highly toxic Moderately toxic: Irritant (cough, prickling, tingling or creeping on eyes and skin, numbness), Diarrhoea, Vomiting. Possible carcinogen, suspected endocrine disruptor Toxic to very toxic to predatory mites, moderately toxic to spiders. Slightly to highly toxic to aquatic organisms and invertebrates (affects behaviour, development, mortality, feeding behaviour, morphology, reproduction), bioaccumulation. Toxic to very toxic to a wide range of useful insects. Lipophilic, thus accumulates in wax.
Ph esther Cekafix Varroa Insufficient data, but likely to be similar to other pyrethroids. Pupillary contraction, muscular trembling, vomiting, diarrhoea. Insufficient data. Insufficient data. Lipophilic, thus accumulates in wax. Tolerance zero for residues in honey. Cross-resistance varroa already developed in varroa to all pyrethroids. No longer allowed in Germany.
Rotenone Varroa Reputed non-toxic for bees, but toxic in combination with pyrethrins in which it is frequently used and of which residues can be available in recycled wax (such as e.g. flavulinate, which is a pyrethrin derivate). Moderately toxic Confusion, cough, headache, laboured breathing, nausea, sore throat, unconsciousness, tremor, abdominal cramps, convulsions, diarrhoea, vomiting. Increases risks of Parkinson's disease. Insufficient data Moderate to acute toxicity for aquatic organisms, birds, insects, molluscs, nematodes, and plankton; developmental, endocrinal and behavioural perturbations, bioaccumulation, mortality Lipophilic, thus accumulates in wax.
Thymol Apiguard, ApiLife Var, Thymovar, Thymol, Frakno-Imkerrähmchen Varroa Toxic; weakening of colonies, apparently exacerbated with low temperatures. Some colonies showed difficulties to gather stores for the winter during a thymol treatment. Irritant Insufficient data Slightly to moderately toxic to aquatic organisms: Affects mortality, behaviour, growth, enzymes, hormones, immunology and population. Accumulation in wax. Influences strongly the organoleptic properties of the honey (thyme taste).
Tylosin (tartrate) Tylan American foulbrood Harmless if applied at the indicated doses. Irritant, allergen. Insufficient data, since never used in human medicine. Diarrhoea and gastrointestinal disturbance, skin pain, inflammation, and itchiness around the injection site observed on other mammals. Affects the growth of soil microorganisms. Toxic to useful microorganisms (rotifiers). Long persistence in honey in metabolite forms. Tendency of target organisms to develop resistance. Use forbidden in beekeeping in Europe.


Adams S. J. et al., 2008: Study of the depletion of tylosin residues in honey extracted from treated honeybee (Apis mellifera) colonies and the effect of the shook swarm procedure Protecting bees from pesticides. Food Safety Group & National Bee Unit, Central Science Laboratory. York, December 2006. hhttp://www.apidologie.org/index.php?option=article&access=standard&Itemid=129&url=/articles/apido/pdf/2007/04/m6093.pdf

Agrichem, 2008: Material safety data sheet: Fenpyroximate 5% SC, Section 1: Chemical product and company identification. Agricultural Chemicals (M) SND. BHD. http://www.agrichem.com.my/msds_pdf/Ortus%205%25%20SC.pdf Agriculture & Environment Research Unit, University of Hertfordshire, 2010: Footprint: creating tools for pesticide risk assessment and management in Europe – The PPDB: A to Z List of Pesticide Active Ingredients. In the frame of the Sixth Framework Programme of the European Community. http://sitem.herts.ac.uk/aeru/footprint/en/index.htm

BeeOlogics, 2009: Other Pathogens. BeeOlogics. http://www.beeologics.com/other_pathogens.asp

BioInfoBank Library, 2009: Oxytetracycline : toxicity. http://lib.bioinfo.pl/meid:76387

Biosecurity New Zealand, 2001: A Review of Treatment Options for Control of Varroa Mite in New Zealand. New Zealand Government. http://www.biosecurity.govt.nz/pests-diseases/animals/varroa/paper/varroa-treatment-options.htm#12

Bogdanov s. et al., 2003: Residues of para dichlorobenzene in honey and beeswax. Swiss Bee Research Centre of Bern, Amt für Lebensmittelkontrolleder Kantone AR, AI, GL und SH of Schaffhausen, Kantonales Laboratorium Basel-Stadt, Kantonales Laboratorium Basel-Land of Liestal, 2003. http://www.agroscope.admin.ch/imkerei/01810/01822/index.html?lang=en&download=NHzLpZeg7t,lnp6I0NTU042l2Z6ln1ad1IZn4Z2qZpnO2Yuq2Z6gpJCDeHt7gGym162epYbg2c_JjKbNoKSn6A--

Boland J. et al., 2004: Pesticides: compounds, use and hazards. Agromisa Foundation, Wageningen, 2004. ISBN: 90-77073-41-8. http://www.agromisa.org/agrodoks/Agromisa-AD-29-E.pdf

Charrière J.-D., Imdorf A., 1999: Protection of Honey Combs From Wax Moth American Bee Journal, August, 1999, cited in: Beesource. http://www.beesource.com/point-of-view/ed-dee-lusby/chemical-varroa-affects-on-honeybees/protection-of-honey-combs-from-wax-moth-damage/

Charrière J.-D., Imdorf A., 2009: Acide oxalique par dégouttement : essais 1999/2000 et recommandations d'utilisation pour l'Europe centrale. Centre de recherches apicoles, Berne, Suisse. http://www.beekeeping.com/abeille-de-france/articles/acide_oxalique.htm

Committee on Mutagenicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products and the Environment, 2009: Statement on the evaluation of Genotoxicity data of Fumagillin Dicyclohexilamine. COM/09/S2. http://www.iacom.org.uk/statements/documents/fumagillinforVMDfinal_2_.pdf

Cushman, D. A., 1995: Cekafix, varroa treatment. Beekeeping and Bee Breeding. http://website.lineone.net/~dave.cushman/cekafix.html

Dox-al Australia, 2008: Material safety data sheet: Tylo-sol Ump® (Tylosin tartrate BPV in UMP® form). Vermont, 2008 http://www.doxal.com.au/docs/pdf/Tylo-sol-UMP-MSDS_010909.pdf

EPA, 1993: R.E.D. facts: Hydroxytetracycline Monohydrochloride and Oxytetracycline Calcium. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. http://www.epa.gov/oppsrrd1/REDs/factsheets/0655fact.pdf

EPA, 1996: R.E.D. facts: Amitraz. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. http://www.epa.gov/oppsrrd1/REDs/factsheets/0234fact.pdf

EPA, 2008: Reregistration Eligibility Decision for Naphthalene. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. http://www.epa.gov/testmike/oppsrrd1reregister/REDs/naphthalene-red.pdf

e-phy, 2009 : Le catalogue des produits phytopharmaceutiques et de leurs usages des matières fertilisantes et des supports de culture homologués en France. Ministère de l'agriculture et le la pêche, République Française. http://e-phy.agriculture.gouv.fr/

EXTONET, 2009: The EXtension TOXicology NETwork. http://extoxnet.orst.edu/

Faucon J.-P., 2002: La varroase, une situation alarmante. Apiservices. http://www.apiservices.com/sante-de-labeille/articles/varroase.htm

Frazier M., Mullin C., Ashcraft S., 2008 : What have pesticides got to do with it? Department of Entomology; Penn State University. http://maarec.psu.edu/CCDPpt/WhatPesticidesToDoWithItJune08ABJ.pdf

Hunt G., Krupke C. H., Foster R. E., 2008: Protecting bees from pesticides. Purdue University, Department of Entymology. July 2008. http://extension.entm.purdue.edu/publications/E-53.pdf

Imkerverein Berlin-Tempelhof, 2010: Liste bekannter Varroabekämpfungsmittel in alphabetischer Reihenfolge. http://www.imkerverein-tempelhof.de/html/bekaempfungsmittel.html

Molina J.-M. et al., 2002: Fumagillin Treatment of Intestinal Microsporidiosis. The New England Journal of Medicine, volume 346, June 20, 2003. http://content.nejm.org/cgi/content/full/346/25/1963

Mutinelli F. 2003a: European Legislation Governing the Authorisation of Veterinary Medicinal Products with Particular Reference to the Use of Drugs for the Control of Honey Bee Diseases. Centro Regionale per l'Apicoltura, Istituto Zooprofilattico sperimentale dell Venezie, Legnaro, 2003. http://www.apimondiafoundation.org/cgi-bin/index.cgi?sid=&zone=download&action=download_file&file_id=276&categ_id=116

Mutinelli F. 2003b: Practical Application of Antibacterial Drugs for the Control of Honey Bee Diseases. Centro Regionale per l'Apicoltura, Istituto Zooprofilattico sperimentale dell Venezie, Legnaro, 2003. http://www.apimondia.org/apiacta/articles/2003/mutinelli_2_.pdf

Nepejchalová L. et al., 2008: Oxytetracycline Assay in Pond Sediment. Institute for State Control of Veterinary Biologicals and Medicaments, Brno, Czech Republic, University of Veterinary and Pharmaceutical Sciences Brno, Czech Republic, University of South Bohemia, Research Institute of Fish Culture and Hydrobiology, Vod?any, Czech Republic, Masaryk University Brno, Research Centre for Environmental Chemistry and Ecotoxicology, Faculty of Science, Brno, Czech Republic, April 2008. http://vfu-www.vfu.cz/acta-vet/archives/volume77/pdf/200877030461.pdf

PAN, 2009: The PAN Pesticide Database, the Pesticide Action Network of North America. http://www.pesticideinfo.org/Index.html

Pettis J. S., Kochansky J., Feldlaufer M. F., 2004: Larval Apis mellifera L. (Hymenoptera: Apidae): Mortality After Topical Application of Antibiotics and Dusts. United States Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service, Bee Research Laboratory, Beltsville, 2004. http://www.culturaapicola.com.ar/apuntes/sanidad/mortalidad_larvas_oxitetraxiclina.PDF

Schmitt H., 2005: The effects of veterinary antibiotics on soil microbial communities. Utrecht University, 2005. http://igitur-archive.library.uu.nl/dissertations/2005-0616-200013/full.pdf

Serafini M. P., 2003: Fenpyroximate (AkariTM 5SC) NYS DEC Letter - Registration of Active Ingredient 5: Certified mail to Ms. Marie A. Maks, Manager, Regulatory Affairs, Nichino America Incorporated, on May 27, 2003/03. New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Division of Solid and Hazardous Materials, Bureau of Pesticides Management. http://pmep.cce.cornell.edu/profiles/insect-mite/fenitrothion-methylpara/fenpyroximate/fenpyrox_reg_0503.html

State Laboratory of the Canton Basel-city, 2003: Honey / residues of antiparasitics and beekeeping auxiliary agents, declaration. State Laboratory of the Canton Basel-City, 2003. http://www.kantonslabor-bs.ch/files/berichte/Honey.pdf

Tayabali A. F., Seligy V. L., 2000: Human Cell Exposure Assays of Bacillus thuringiensis Commercial Insecticides: Production of Bacillus cereus-Like Cytolytic Effects from Outgrowth of Spores. In: Environmental Health Perspectives V.108, N.10, Oct00. http://www.mindfully.org/GE/Bt-Human-Cell-Exp.htm

Vita, 2009: Monitoring varroa resistance. Vita (Europe) LIMITED. http://www.vita-europe.com/Map_enscript/frmbuilder.php?dateiname=%2Fen%2Fmonitoring.htm

Wallner K., Fries I., 2003: Control of the Mite Varroa Destructor in honey Bee Colonies. Pesticide Outlook. http://www.rsc.org/delivery/_ArticleLinking/DisplayArticleForFree.cfm?doi=b301510f&JournalCode=PO

Wikipedia, 2009 : Amitraze. http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amitraze

Wikipedia, 2009: Oxytetracycline. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oxytetracycline

Wikipedia, 2010 : Rotenone. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rotenone

Wikipedia, 2010 : Tylosin. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tylosin

World Health Organization, 2003: Nitrobenzene: Environmental Health Criteria 230. http://whqlibdoc.who.int/ehc/WHO_EHC_230.pdf

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