Agricultural pesticides and biocides

OECD Work Related to Bees/Pollinators


Why is the OECD working on bee/pollinators

There have been reports these last years of declines in native and managed pollinators in several regions of the world. Potential factors associated with these declines are hypothesised to include habitat destruction, predators, certain agricultural practices, bee management practices, pathogens, climate change, nutrition and pesticides. There is uncertainty regarding the extent to which pesticides contribute to pollinator declines. In recent years, reports of adverse incidents associated with pesticides use have been rapidly disseminated by the media across the globe. Pesticide Regulatory Authorities of OECD member countries have found challenging to access authoritative information sources in real time to develop responses to incidents.

In 2009, the OECD Working Group on Pesticides conducted a survey to address issues related to pollinator declines. Member countries were surveyed on: how incident information on bees is handled, testing requirements for pollinators, active areas of research into pollinator issues, and approaches employed to mitigate potential risks to pollinators from pesticides. The report of the OECD Survey on Pollinators Testing, Research, Mitigation and Information Management: Survey Results was published in 2010 in the series on Pesticides, No. 52.


Outcome of OECD work

The work related to bees and pollinators is conducted into two areas: Pesticides and Test Guidelines overseen respectively by the Working Group on Pesticides (WGP) and the Working Group of National Coordinators of the Test Guidelines Programme (WNT).  It consists of:


  • Laws, Policies and Guidance relevant to management of risk to pollinators: Links are maintained to OECD member country laws, policies and guidance relating to pesticides and risk management tools for insect pollinators, including precautionary labelling, use restrictions, technologies, training materials, Best Management Practices (BMP) and Integrated Pest Management (IPM) practices currently used by OECD countries to mitigate the risk of pesticides to insect pollinators.

  • Test Guidelines and Guidance Documents:

Six OECD Guidelines for the Testing of Chemicals have been developed and are publically available:

Three Guidance documents in the Series of Testing and Assessment have been developed and are publically available:


Current and planned OECD activities

Testing Requirements and Risk Assessment Priorities have been ranked based on the analysis of need and feasibility. Need is determined by the policy and (current and future) regulatory requirements.

Feasibility is determined by a number of elements like: can the proposed test be easily conducted? Is there already someone working on this test method? Are there available data obtained by using the proposed test method? Will adequate methodology be available soon? Is there a need for further research before envisaging such a test?


The following activities have been given high priority for both need and feasibility:

  • Laboratory toxicity test on developmental stages of honeybee: larvae, pupae and adult emergence;
  • Honeybee tunnel test under semi-field conditions;
  • Estimation of level of residues in pollen and nectar by calculation based on the application rate;
  • Risk assessment schemes for adult and larvae honeybee, bumble bees and solitary bees, for sprayed products, soil and seed treatments;
  • Uncertainties in the risk assessment; and
  • Laboratory acute contact toxicity test on adults of solitary non-Apis bee species.

These priorities are in line with the work undertaken under the auspices of the International Commission for Pollinator Plant Relationship (ICPPR) and in particular its Bee Protection Group.

Based on the above priorities, the following activity is currently underway:

  • Development of an acute contact toxicity test for the solitary living Mason Bee (Osmia spp.)

 Information related to the current ring tests is provided to experts nominated by the OECD member countries.




Related Documents