Bee Ecotoxicology

  • Fera is at the forefront of bee ecotoxicology testing.
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Bee Ecotoxicology

Our research expertise and scientific resources can help you to test your plant-protection products for their effects on bee survival, development and behaviour – helping you to develop products that are safe for bees and other pollinators. We work closely with the National Bee Unit, giving us access to a huge range of resources to support your risk assessments, including more than 150 colonies of honey bees and a highly skilled beekeeping team.


Our services
  • Range of proven laboratory tests to assess product toxicity to bees
  • Field studies to assess impacts on bees under tunnel & open-field conditions
  • Bespoke tests designed to address specific requirements
  • Access to resources and expertise of National Bee Unit

Ecotoxicology services: bee ecotoxicology


The tests detailed below demonstrate some of our capabilities. We will work with you to select the appropriate tests to meet the specific needs of your project. We can perform all of the necessary residue analysis for these studies, from testing dosing solutions to analysing complex hive matrices. If you have a specific testing requirement or problem that needs addressing, we can adapt our methods or design bespoke tests to provide the data, analysis and reports you need.

Laboratory tests:

Adult honey bees and bumblebees- acute toxicity

Short-term tests designed to look at the worst-case scenario for the two main routes of exposure to risk for bees. For honey bees, we follow OECD Guidelines 213 & 214: Honey Bees Acute Oral & Contact Toxicity Tests. Bumblebee tests are run in accordance with the latest Draft OECD Guidelines for acute oral and contact dosing of bumblebees 2016.

Bee on Lavander Close Up
Bee Extreme Close Up

Adult honey bees - chronic toxicity

Designed to assess the possible longer-term feeding effects of plant-protection products on honey bees. These tests are carried out according to the latest proposal for a new OECD Guideline for the Testing of Chemicals: Honey bee (Apis mellifera L.), chronic oral toxicity test (10 day feeding test in the laboratory) 2016.

In vitro honey bee larval toxicity

These tests assess the effects of PPPs on honey bee larvae. Larvae are grafted from healthy colonies into artificial cells where they are fed an artificial diet (royal jelly and sugars) reared in the laboratory. The test item is combined with the feed and fed directly to the larvae. These tests can be run as a single dose test according to OECD Test Guideline 237: Honey bee larval toxicity test - Single exposure or repeat dosing according to OECD Guidance Document 239 Honey bee larval toxicity test - Repeated exposure.


Aged-residue tests

Extended laboratory test to assess the toxicity of plant-protection product residues on plants post application to bees. Tests performed according to EPA OCSPP 850.3030: Honey Bee Toxicity of Residues on Foliage.

Bee metabolism studies

Studies to examine the metabolism of plant-protection products and the toxicity of the metabolites when ingested or absorbed by adult bees.


For more information on our laboratory test services please get in touch.


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Bee on Flower Extreme Close Up
Bee on Corn Extreme Close Up

Semi-field and field tests

Honey bee brood tests

Using photographic methods and bee brood monitoring software, it is possible to monitor the effects of PPPs on the development of different brood stages. Tests performed according to OECD 75: Honey Bee Brood Test Under Semi-Field Conditions (tunnel test).

Honey bee brood feeding test

Similar to above, but the test item can be fed directly to free-flying honey bee colonies in sugar syrup. Test undertaken to Oomen, de Ruijter & van der Steen method (1992).


Honey bee effects tests

Conducted under open-field conditions to give realistic exposure scenarios (EPPO 170). Can be designed to assess various aspects, including spray applications, seed treatments (e.g. dust) and risks from guttation. We are experienced in the use of Radio Frequency IDentification (RFID) technology under open-field situations to assess the potential effects of plant-protection products on the foraging behaviour and mortality of worker bees.

Solitary bee and bumble effects tests

Bespoke semi-field and field studies under tunnel and open-field conditions. Studies are run in collaboration with Atlantic Pollination Ltd.


For more information on our field and semi-filed test services please get in touch.


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Bee Swarm Extreme Close Up

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