Effect of hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF) on mortality of artificially reared honey bee larvae (Apis mellifera carnica)

Hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF) is a heatformed, acid-catalyzed contaminant of sugar syrups, which find their way into honey bee feeding. As HMF was noted to be toxic to adult honey bees, we investigated the toxicity of HMF towards larvae. Therefore we exposed artificially reared larvae to a chronic HMF intoxication over 6 days using 6 different concentrations (5, 50, 750, 5000, 7500 and 10,000 ppm) and a control. The mortality was assessed from day 2 to day 7 (d7) and on day 22 (d22). Concentrations ranging from 5 to 750 ppm HMF did not show any influence on larval or pupal mortality compared to controls (p>0.05; Kaplan–Meier analysis). Concentrations of 7500 ppm or higher caused a larval mortality of 100 %. An experimental LC50 of 4280 ppm (d7) and 2424 ppm (d22) was determined. The calculated LD50 was 778 µg HMF per larva on d7 and 441 µg HMF on d22. Additionally, we exposed adult honey bees to high concentrations of HMF to compare the mortality to the results from larvae. On d7 larvae are much more sensitive against HMF than adult honey bees after 6 days of feeding. However, on d22 after emergence adults show a lower LC50, which indicates a higher sensitivity than larvae. As toxicity of HMF against honey bees is a function of time and concentration, our results indicate that HMF in supplemental food will probably not cause great brood losses. Yet sublethal effects
might decrease fitness of the colony.


Krainer, Brodschneider, Vollmann, Crailsheim, Riessberger-Gallé (2015) Effect of Hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF) on mortality of artificially reared honey bee larvae (Apis mellifera carnica). Ecotoxicology, DOI 10.1007/s10646-015-1590-x