In the last decade, an increase in honey bee (Apis mellifera L.) colony losses has been reported in several countries. The causes of this decline are still not clear. This study was set out to evaluate the pesticide residues in stored pollen from honey bee colonies and their possible impact on honey bee losses in Spain. In total, 1,021 professional apiaries were randomly selected. All pollen samples were subjected to multiresidue analysis by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry ( MS ) and liquid chromatography-MS; moreover, specific methods were applied for neonicotinoids and fipronil. A palynological analysis also was carried out to confirm the type of foraging crop. Pesticide residues were detected in 42% of samples collected in spring, and only in 31% of samples collected in autumn. Fluvalinate and chlorfenvinphos were the most frequently detected pesticides in the analyzed samples. Fipronil was detected in 3.7% of all the spring samples but never in autumn samples, and neonicotinoid residues were not detected. More than 47.8% of stored pollen samples belonged to wild vegetation, and sunflower (Heliantus spp.) pollen was only detected in 10.4% of the samples. A direct relation between pesticide residues found in stored pollen samples and colony losses was not evident accordingly to the obtained results. Further studies are necessary to determine the possible role of the most frequent and abundant pesticides (such as acaricides) and the synergism among them and with other pathogens more prevalent in Spain.
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Vol. 103 • No. 6