Effects of a neonicotinoid pesticide on honey bee colonies: a response to the field study by Pilling et al. (2013)

doi: 10.1186/s12302-015-0060-7


Our assessment of the multi-year overwintering study by Pilling et al. (2013) revealed a number of major deficiencies regarding the study design, the protocol and the evaluation of results. Colonies were exposed for short periods per year to flowering oilseed rape and maize grown from thiamethoxam-coated seeds. Thiamethoxam as the sole active ingredient was used, not a more efficacious commercial product, at seed treatment rates that were lower than recommended as per common agricultural practices. Design and adherence to the protocol were described inadequately making it doubtful whether the study was implemented in a traceable way. No results are given for overwintering losses. Much emphasis is laid on presenting condensed raw data but no statistical evaluation is provided. Therefore, the work presented does not contribute new knowledge to our understanding of the potential impact of thiamethoxam products under field conditions. Furthermore, the authors express concern over the refereeing process of the paper. Publications in refereed journals are likely to be taken seriously in political debates and policy-making, and so must be based on truthful data and methodologies.

Key Words

Thiamethoxam, Honeybee, Field study, Critical review

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