Honeybees (Apis mellifera L.) as a Potential Bioindicator for Detection of Toxic and Essential Elements in the Environment (Case Study: Markazi Province, Iran)

  • Rezvan Davodpour
  • Soheil SobhanardakaniEmail author
  • Mehrdad Cheraghi
  • Nourollah Abdi
  • Bahareh Lorestani


Honeybees, due to their wide-ranging foraging behaviour, have great potentials for monitoring environmental quality. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to use honeybees as bioindicators for the detection of toxic and essential metals (Cd, Cr, Cu, and Fe) in the environment. Totally, 180 soil, plant (including root and aerial part), honeybees, and honey samples were collected from 12 sites within the main beekeeping and honey production regions in Markazi Province, Iran in 2016. After acid digestion of samples, the metal concentrations were measured by inductively coupled plasma-optical emission spectrometers. The translocation factor (TF), and bioconcentration factor (BCF) of metals were computed. The results showed that among the analyzed bee samples, Cd (mg kg−1) was detected in amounts ranging from 0.01 to 2.35, Cr (mg kg−1) ranged from 0.02 to 18.10, Cu (mg kg−1) ranged from 2.00 to 39.11, and Fe (mg kg−1) ranged from 163 to 1695. BCF and TF values obtained showed that the Astragalus gossypinus would have a great accumulation ability for Cd and Cr. The results indicated that honeybees could be used to detect the spatial patterns of metal contaminations in the environment they dwell in.



The authors appreciate the Hamedan Branch, Islamic Azad University for providing instruments to conduct and complete this study.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of the Environment, College of Basic Sciences, Hamedan BranchIslamic Azad UniversityHamedanIran
  2. 2.Department of the Rangeland and Watershed, College of Agricultural Sciences, Arak BranchIslamic Azad UniversityArakIran

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