Researchers in Italy investigated the effect of polyethylene microplastic ingestion on honeybee mortality and behaviour.
Researchers assessed the oral toxicity of polyethylene microplastics, feeding them three different concentrations (0.5, 5, and 50 mg of polyethylene per litre), for 1 day and 7 days. They tested the effects on honeybee survival, food intake, sucrose responsiveness, habituation to sucrose, and appetitive olfactory learning and memory.
They found honeybee mortality significantly increased when bees were exposed to the highest polyethylene concentrations. Polyethylene affected feeding, with bees exposed to low concentrations of polyethylene consuming more food than controls. The high concentration of polyethylene affected the honeybees’ ability to respond consistently to sucrose, but had no effect on sucrose sensitivity, habituation to sucrose or learning and memory.
Read the full paper:
Balzani, P., Galeotti, G., Scheggi, S., Masoni, A., Santini, G. and Baracchi, D., 2022. Acute and chronic ingestion of polyethylene (PE) microplastics has mild effects on honey bee health and cognition. Environmental Pollution, 305, p.119318. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0269749122005322