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    Water is essential for honey bees (Apis mellifera L.), but contaminated sources of water in agricultural environments represent a risk of exposure to potentially harmful contaminants. Providing clean water to honey bees could be an efficient and cost-effective measure for beekeepers to reduce bee mortality associated with pesticides and improve the health of their colonies. The main goal of this study was to design a waterer prototype to fulfill the water requirements of honey bees and to evaluate the potential of this waterer in improving colonies' health in agricultural settings, through mitigating the possible impact of an exposure to pesticides from puddle water. We tested the preference of honey bees regarding water composition and waterer prototypes, among which honey bees showed a strong preference for salted water and a poultry-type waterer. Our waterer models were quickly adopted and intensively used through the season in both the context of honey production in field crops and pollination services in cranberry crops. However, in neither context did the use of waterers reduce worker mortality nor increase overall colony weight. Our waterers provided bees with water containing fewer pesticides and were associated with reduced risks of drowning compared to natural sources of water. Our study suggests that the use of waterers fulfills an important requirement for honey bees and represents an interesting and convenient precautionary measure for beekeepers.

    Citation

    Frédéric McCune, Olivier Samson-Robert, Sabrina Rondeau, Madeleine Chagnon, Valérie Fournier. Supplying honey bees with waterers: a precautionary measure to reduce exposure to pesticides. Environmental science and pollution research international. 2021 Apr;28(14):17573-17586

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    PMID: 33403629

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