Stress decreases pollen foraging performance in honeybees

Célia Bordier, Simon Klein, Yves Le Conte, Andrew B. Barron, Cédric Alaux*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Citations (Scopus)
24 Downloads (Pure)


Foraging in honeybees is energetically demanding. Here, we examined whether stressors, which generally increase metabolic demands, can impair foraging performance. A controlled non-pathogenic stressor (immune challenge) resulted in a change in the foraging preferences of bees. It reduced pollen foraging and increased the duration of trips in pollen foragers. Stress also reduced the amount of octopamine in the brain of pollen foragers (a biogenic amine involved in the regulation of foraging and flight behaviour in insects). According to the literature, flight metabolic rate is higher during pollen foraging than during nectar foraging, and nectar gives a higher energetic return relative to the foraging effort when compared with pollen. We thus propose that stress might be particularly detrimental to the performance of pollen foragers, and stressed bees prefer the energy-rich resource of nectar. In conclusion, stress, even at low levels, could have consequences for bee foraging behaviour and thereby the nutritional balance of the colony.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberjeb171470
Pages (from-to)1-5
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Experimental Biology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2018

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2018. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • immune challenge
  • flight
  • Biogenic amine
  • radio-frequency identification device

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