Honey bees and wild bees are essential in their role as plant pollinators in both managed and natural ecosystems. At the same time, there is clear evidence of their decline. A key factor in the decline of bees is the use of pesticides (plant protection agents) in agriculture. In modern agriculture, insecticides and fungicides are often co-applied, exposing bees to a combination of active substances. Some pesticide associations may show synergistic effects - however, there is still a great lack of research in this field.
In my project, I will therefore investigate whether the combined use of insecticides and fungicides triggers synergistic effects on the survival and behavior of honey bees and wild bees. Using a behavioural-physiological-ecological approach, the effects of insecticide-fungicide mixtures will be investigated on learning behaviour, larval development and orientation. Furthermore, the influence of insecticide-fungicide mixtures on population development, pollen input and flight activity will be quantified in real agricultural landscapes.
The research can provide important information for the protection of honey bee and wild bee populations. Recommendations can be given for or against the use of certain insecticide/fungicide combinations.
The project is carried out in cooperation with the Department of Animal Ecology and Tropical Biology at the University of Würzburg (Zoology III) - co-supervisor is Prof. Ingolf Steffan-Dewenter - and constitutes to the Project Network BayÖkotox .