, Volume 50, Issue 5, pp 657–668 | Cite as

Neonicotinoids and fipronil concentrations in honeybees associated with pesticide use in Brazilian agricultural areas

  • Dayson CastilhosEmail author
  • Jeferson L. D. Dombroski
  • Genevile C. Bergamo
  • Kátia P. Gramacho
  • Lionel S. Gonçalves
Original article


Brazil leads global lists of honeybee colony losses in South America as well as pesticide use, according to a web-based survey ( In association with that survey, Africanized honeybee (Apis mellifera) samples were opportunistically collected when bee poisoning was apparently linked to pesticide use in crops. The objective was to determine concentrations of fipronil and neonicotinoids in live and dead honeybees, in areas where these compounds are widely used in agriculture. Pesticide residues in honeybees (54 live and 60 dead composite samples) were detected with mass spectrometry (UHPLC-MS/MS using QuEChERS methodology). Toxicological analyses in both matrices detected multiple contaminations with highest indices by fipronil with frequency of 55.3% and amplitude (0.7–23,539.7 ng/g), thiamethoxam 20.2% (0.6–13.6 ng/g), imidacloprid 3.5% (4.5–16.2 ng/g), nitenpyram 1.8% (3.8–7.4 ng/g), and thiacloprid 0.9% (1.6 ng/g). Neonicotinoids and fipronil residues had higher frequencies and amplitudes in honeybees collected near sugarcane plantations and orange orchards in northwest São Paulo state and other agro-industrial rural landscapes across the country dominated with fields of soybean, corn, and tropical fruit crops. These systemic pesticides were presumed to be primary mechanisms of honeybee colony losses in Brazil, according to a recently published 5-year survey by the same authors and reinforced by current analyses.


Apis mellifera colony losses pesticide UHPLC-MS/MS QuEChERS rural landscapes 



Authors thank BEE OR NOT TO BE for access to their database, UFERSA for resources and facilities, EVA CRANE TRUST for funding, Arthur David and Cristina Botías for method support, Paulo S. F. Chagas for lab support, John Kastelic for manuscript editing, and beekeepers for supplying samples.

Authors’ contributions

KPG managed the project and resources, LSG led research, JLDD and DC performed UHPLC-MS/MS analyses, GCB performed statistical analyses, and DC collected samples, extracted and run the analytes, and formatted the paper. All authors participated in manuscript writing.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

13592_2019_676_MOESM1_ESM.docx (86 kb)
ESM 1. (DOCX 85 kb)


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Copyright information

© INRA, DIB and Springer-Verlag France SAS, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Programa de Pós-graduação em Ciência AnimalUniversidade Federal Rural do Semi-ÁridoMossoróBrazil
  2. 2.DCAFUniversidade Federal Rural do Semi-ÁridoMossoróBrazil
  3. 3.DCMEUniversidade Federal Rural do Semi-ÁridoMossoróBrazil
  4. 4.FFCLUniversidade de São PauloRibeirão PretoBrazil

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