Reconciling laboratory and field assessments of neonicotinoid toxicity to honeybees

European governments have banned the use of three common neonicotinoid pesticides due to insufficiently identified risks to bees. This policy decision is controversial given the absence of clear consistency between toxicity assessments of those substances in the laboratory and in the field. Although laboratory trials report deleterious effects in honeybees at trace levels, field surveys reveal no decrease in the performance of honeybee colonies in the vicinity of treated fields. Here we provide the missing link, showing that individual honeybees near thiamethoxam-treated fields do indeed disappear at a faster rate, but the impact of this is buffered by the colonies' demographic regulation response.

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