J Toxicol Environ Health A, 2013 May;76(10):587-600
Fermentation by fungi converts stored pollen into bee bread that is fed to honey bee larvae, Apis mellifera, so the diversity of fungi in bee bread may be related to its food value. To explore the relationship between fungicide exposure and bee bread fungi, samples of bee bread collected from bee colonies pollinating orchards from 7 locations over 2 years were analyzed for fungicide residues and fungus composition.
There were detectable levels of fungicides from regions that were sprayed before bloom. An organic orchard had the highest quantity and variety of fungicides, likely due to the presence of treated orchards within bees' flight range. Aspergillus, Penicillium, Rhizopus, and Cladosporium (beneficial fungi) were the primary fungal isolates found, regardless of habitat differences. There was some variation in fungal components amongst colonies, even within the same apiary. The variable components were Absidia, Alternaria, Aureobasidium, Bipolaris, Fusarium, Geotrichum, Mucor, Nigrospora, Paecilomyces, Scopulariopsis, and Trichoderma. The number of fungal isolates was reduced as an effect of fungicide contamination. Aspergillus abundance was particularly affected by increased fungicide levels, as indicated by Simpson's diversity index.
Bee bread showing fungicide contamination originated from colonies, many of which showed chalkbrood symptoms.