chapter  2
Volatile and semi-volatile organic compounds in beehive atmospheres G . C . SMITH , J . J . BROMENSHENK , D . C . JONES , AND
ByG.C. Smith, J.J. Bromenshenk,
Pages 30

A colony of honey bees is an effective environmental sampling device for volatile and semi-volatile organic compounds (VOCs and SVOCs) in a complex ecosystem setting. Over the past six years, we have developed a thermal desorption/gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (TD/GC/MS) technique using commercially available carbon molecular sieve tubes to screen beehive atmospheres for the presence of VOCs and SVOCs. Hive air is withdrawn at about 0.100dm3/min through a small copper tube inserted between frames in the center of the beehive. Besides detecting the compounds normally released by honey bee physiology, hive stores, and hive construction components, we also see a broad range of compounds that are environmental contaminants. These fall into categories of fossil fuel constituents, industrial solvents, pesticides, and explosives. Hives can be deployed over regional landscapes or clustered near known contaminated sites to yield useful guidance on clean-up prioritization. More recent work introduces xenobiotic VOC taggants to feeders as an aid in studying the foraging pattern of bees.