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Despite growing concerns over the impacts of agricultural pesticides on honey bee health, miticides (a group of pesticides used within hives to kill bee parasites) have received little attention. We know very little about how miticides might affect bee cognition, particularly in interaction with other known stressors, such as crop insecticides. Visual learning is essential for foraging bees to find their way to flowers, recognize them, and fly back to the nest. Using a standardized aversive visual conditioning assay, we tested how field exposure to three pesticides affects visual learning in European honey bees (Apis mellifera). Our pesticides were two common miticides, thymol in the commercial formulation Apiguard® and tau-fluvalinate in the formulation Apistan® and one neonicotinoid, imidacloprid. We found no effect of miticides alone, nor of field-relevant doses of imidacloprid alone, but bees exposed to both thymol and imidacloprid showed reduced performance in the visual learning assay.
- Varroa destructor
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