Agricultural Science

Agricultural Science

ISSN: 2291-4471 (Print)    ISSN: 2291-448X (Online)

Volume 1 (2013), No. 1, Pages 1-16

DOI: 10.12735/as.v1i1p01

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The Potential for Using Ozone to Decrease Pesticide Residues in Honey Bee Comb

Rosalind R. James1  James D. Ellis2  Adrian Duehl3 

1Pollinating Insects Research Unit, USDA Agricultural Research Service, Logan, Utah, USA
2Department of Entomology & Nematology, University Florida, Gainesville, Florida, USA
3Center for Medical, Agricultural & Veterinary Entomology, USDA Agricultural Research Service, Gainesville, Florida. Now at Bayer Crop Science, Davis California, USA


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Ozone is a strong oxidizer, and we evaluated its potential to eliminate pesticides from honeycomb and empty honey bee hives. Honey bees are exposed to pesticides when foraging for nectar and pollen and when beekeepers use in-hive chemical pest control measures. Persistent pesticides can accumulate in the hive over years, potentially harming the bees. Honeycomb is removed from bee colonies for honey extraction and then placed back on the colonies at a later date, providing a time when combs could be fumigated to eliminate or reduce pesticide residues. We found that ozone gas at a rate >920 mg O3/m3 for 10-20 h lowers coumaphos residues on a glass surface by 93-100% and tau-fluvalinate by 75-98%. Ozone was less effective at eliminating pesticides on beeswax, and residues were more effectively eliminated with new combs (comb built by bees within 3 y) than with old combs (combs used by beekeepers for >10 y). Ozone significantly reduced dimethylphenyl formamide, chlorpyrifos, and fenpyroximate contaminations in comb. When comb is treated with ozone, an off-odor is created, but the volatiles were found to be primarily straight chain aldehydes and carboxylic acids that are probably harmless to bees and humans. Ozone may have some utility for lowering pesticide residues in bee hives, but it would be more effective if a mechanism could be found that provides better penetration into wax, a goal not fully accomplished in our method.

Keywords: bees wax, honey bees, honeycomb, ozone, pesticide residues

To Cite this Article: James, R. R., Ellis, J. D., & Duehl, A. (2013). The Potential for Using Ozone to Decrease Pesticide Residues in Honey Bee Comb. Agricultural Science, 1(1), 1-16.

Copyright © Rosalind R. James et al.

Creative Commons License
This article is published under license to Science and Education Centre of North America. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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The Potential for Using Ozone to Decrease Pesticide Residues in Honey Bee Comb