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From hood to hive: Studying pollinator safety

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Pollinators are a farmer’s (and a foodie’s) best friends. Bees, butterflies and even animals like bats help pollinate so many crops, and it’s been estimated that we can thank them for one out of every three bites of food we eat.1

This is why pollinator safety is such an important part of the research into any new insecticide product. Before bringing a product like Isoclast™ active to market, scientists work to thoroughly understand how it might impact pollinators, because what’s good for pollinators is good for farmers, and good for agriculture.

To study the effects of a product like Isoclast in bees, Corteva Agriscience does its own research, and works with researchers in independent labs. Universities also often carry out their own studies, and studies happen in various countries where the product may be approved for use. Good Laboratory Practices—strict scientific procedures that are designed to produce accurate, unbiased results—ensure data from studies is collected consistently and data integrity is preserved.

Evaluation of an insecticide’s impact on pollinators begins in the lab where products are studied for oral ingestion and contact under strictly controlled conditions. Lab studies test contact with an insecticide at much higher levels than anything a pollinator is likely to encounter on a farm. If the product passes tests in the lab, it then moves on to being studied in the field.

In the field, scientists study how bee colonies behave when exposed to the product. Researchers look for bee mortality, as well as whether the product impacts the bees’ foraging behavior, and whether it leaves residues in pollen or nectar that bees take in. If any dead bees are observed, the researchers want to know why. Are there any levels of the product in the bee’s system? Is the mortality due to natural causes? Researchers track bees all the way back to the hive, checking for any effects there and observing colony behavior. The goal is to ensure that, at the hive, it’s business as usual and bees continue to be healthy and productive after foraging on the treated crops.

Studies like these don’t stop when a product comes to market. For more than a decade, scientists have continued to monitor and confirm the safety of Isoclast for pollinators, helping farmers protect the beneficial insects they need and eliminate the pests they don’t.

Insecticides like Isoclast are studied carefully by scientists to determine their effects on pollinators like bees. Researchers observe whether a product affects bee health or behavior.

1 “Insects & Pollinators.” USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. Accessed March 24, 2022  https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/detailfull/national