Historically the risk assessment for bees in the international and national process of authorizing plant protection products (PPPs) has been based on the honey bee (Apis mellifera L.) as an organism considered representative of other bee species. In comparison to the honey bee, non-Apis bee species have various differences in behaviour and life history traits and these present shortcomings have initiated the discussion if additional information on other species are needed to assess the risk of plant protection products on pollinators in general. Therefore, experts from authorities, academia and industry decided 2014 to set up a working group within the International Commission for Plant-Pollinator Relationships (ICP-PR) focusing on non-Apis bee species. The aim of the sub group is to evaluate the feasibility of test methods for the use of for bumble bees and solitary bees with regard to the risk assessment of PPPs. At the beginning of working the main focus was directed on the two different bee species, the buff-tailed bumble bee (Bombus terrestris) and the red mason bee (Osmia bicornis), which at the time were already mentioned in the assessment in accordance to the EFSA bee guidance document (EFSA, 2013). In addition, afterwards stingless bee species, originated in the tropical and subtropical zones, were included into the work as well as some other available bumble bee and solitary bee species.
Further intention of the group was to increase the knowledge about the biology, the handling of the respective species and develop draft test protocols. To work more intensive, the non-Apis group was split into four focus groups, each focus group established ring-tests to develop and if possible establish standardized test.
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Details of the four focus groups:
Laboratory studies on bumble bees
Nina Exeler| firstname.lastname@example.org
The group already developed acute oral and contact test for the buff-tailed bumble bee (Bombus terrestris) (please give link or reference to OECD test). Chronic test lab part has been done and is on its way to be written up.
Laboratory studies on solitary bees
Ivo Roessink | email@example.com
At the moment the group is drafting a OECD guideline for Osmia contact testing. Acute oral testing data is available and processing of the results has been delayed due to serval lockdown situations. This will receive a followed-up later in 2021. Species tested include at this stage not only European species Osmia cornuta and O. bicornis but also two north American species O. lignaria and O. conifrons.
The newest species worked on is Megachile rotundata. Acute contact testing has been performed by different institutions to gain experience outside a ring testing set-up. Also first experimentations with acute oral testing of this species have been performed.
Work on scientific paper on contact testing for Osmia is progressing slowly but goes ahead.
Laboratory studies on stingless bees
Roberta Nocelli| firstname.lastname@example.org
This group is the newest group. The main focus of the work is in Latin America with an option to expand to other tropic and subtopic habitats around the world. Despite being the newest group the protocol for larvae testing is now finished for 2 species (Melipona scutellaris, Scaptotrigona postica).
Work has started to develop protocols for adult contact and oral testing for 3 species stingless bee species (Melipona scutellaris, Scaptotrigona postica, Tetragonisca angustula). Four labs did ring-test the first protocols. Work started again in September 2021 and the project is prolonged until 2022.
Work on scientific paper on contact and oral protocol for adults is progressing and should be submitted soon.
The papers for larvae protocol to two species of stingless bees are published and available here:
Semi-field studies on bumble bees and solitary bees
Olaf Klein| email@example.com
The sub-group focussing on higher tier testing carried out ring-tests under semi-field conditions from 2016 to 2017 with the buff-tailed bumble bee (Bombus terrestris) and mason bees (Osmia bicornis and Osmia cornuta). These efforts resulted in two publications giving recommendations for a semi-field study design with O. bicornis and O. cornuta and B. terrestris.
The paper for Osmia is already published in 2020 and available here: https://doi.org/10.1002/etc.4874 and bumble bees (submitted, currently under review, probably published in 2021).