Traditional approaches to studying the effects of genetically modified (GM) crops on beneficial insects involve either field assays, comparing insect population levels between control and GM crops or tritrophic bioassays with contaminated insects – usually larvae or eggs of Lepidoptera – as preys. Here, we report the results of a bioassay using an artificial diet, suitable for predatory Coleoptera, to supply Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) solubilized Cry1Ab and Cry3Aa as well as trypsin-activated Cry1Ab to Atheta coriaria and Cryptolaemus montrouzieri adults and young larvae of Adalia bipunctata. Water, solubilization buffer and trypsin-treated solubilization buffer were used as controls. In total, 1600 insects were assayed. Assays showed a relatively low mortality rate in the controls, ranging from as low as 7% after 15 days (C. montrouzieri) to about 15–20% after five days (A. bipunctata) or 15 days (A. coriaria). For all three predators, there were no statistical differences between the mortality recorded in any of the treatment groups and the corresponding controls. These results indicate a lack of short- (A. bipunctata) and long-term (A. coriaria and C. montrouzieri) mortality associated with oral ingestion of Cry1Ab and Cry3Aa at the high dose tested (50 μg ml−1). We discuss the relevance of these findings for the ecology of beneficial Coleoptera and compatibility with Bt and GM Bt crops.