Free access
Volume 22, Number 4, 1991
Page(s) 359 - 369
Apidologie 22 (1991) 359-369
DOI: 10.1051/apido:19910401

Population dynamics of honey bee nucleus colonies exposed to industrial pollutants

J.J. Bromenshenka, J.L. Gudatisa, S.R. Carlsona, J.M. Thomasb and M.A. Simmonsb

a  Division of Biological Sciences, University of Montana, Missoula, Montana 59812, USA
b  Terrestrial Sciences Section, Pacific Northwest Laboratory Richland, Washington 99352, USA

Abstract - Nucleus colonies (nucs) of = 4 500 honey bees (Apis mellifera L) were evaluated as an alternative to full-size colonies for monitoring pollution impacts. Fifty nucs were deployed at 5 sites along a transect on Vashon Island, Washington. This provided a gradient of exposure to arsenic and cadmium from industrial sources. After 40 d, statistically significant differences were observed among sites for mean mass and numbers of bees (P ≤ 0.01), honey yield (P ≤ 0.07), and arsenic and cadmium content of forager bees (P ≤ 0.001). These findings are discussed in terms of exposure to heavy metals and observed changes in colony dynamics, especially brood rearing and hoarding of pollen, nectar, and honey.

Key words: Apis mellifera / population dynamics / biological indicator / pollutant