Brodsgaard, H. F., Brodsgaard, C. J., Hansen, H. and Lovei, G. L. 2003. Environmental risk assessment of transgene products using honey bee (Apis mellifera) larvae. Apidologie 34: 139-145.
An environmental concern regarding the cultivation of transgenic crop plants is their effect on non-target organisms. Honey bees are obvious non-target arthropods to be included in a risk assessment procedure but due to their complex social behaviour, testing transgene products on individual bees is not possible in bee colonies. We employed a laboratory larval rearing technique to test the impacts of such transgene products on honey bees. A serine proteinase inhibitor ( Kunitz Soybean Trypsin Inhibitor, SBTI), that is a source of insect resistance in transgenic plants, was used as a model insecticidal protein on honey bee larvae reared individually in the laboratory. The addition of 1.0% SBTI (w:w of total protein) to the larval diet created significant additional larval mortality, slowed juvenile development and significantly decreased adult body mass. Our results suggest that the larval rearing technique can be used to monitor direct side-effects of transgene products on individual honey bee larvae.