Researchers in Argentina conducted an experiment to determine the acute toxicity of polyester fibres and their effects on foraging behaviour in honeybees.
They found that feeding honeybees with a sucrose solution containing 100 mg microplastic per litre had no effect on mortality after 24 and 48 hours. When they dissected the bees digestive tracts they found fibres located in their gut and crop.
Although the bees showed no preference or avoidance of the microplastics when offered a choice, the bees did consume the microplastic-free solutions faster than the solutions containing 10 and 100 mg microplastics per litre, possibly because of differences in the viscosity of the liquids.
The researchers conclude that microplastics do not pose a threat in the short-term, but state that there may be lethal long-term effects because the bees did not avoid the microplastics.
Read the full paper:
Buteler, M., Alma, A.M., Stadler, T., Gingold, A.C., Manattini, M.C., & Lozada, M. (2022) Acute toxicity of microplastic fibers to honeybees and effects on foraging behaviour. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2022.153320