The miticide thymol in combination with trace levels of the neonicotinoid imidacloprid reduces visual learning performance in honey bees (Apis mellifera)

Théotime Colin, Jenny A. Plath, Simon Klein, Peta Vine, Jean Marc Devaud, Mathieu Lihoreau, William G. Meikle, Andrew B. Barron*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)499-509
Number of pages11
JournalApidologie
Volume51
Issue number4
Early online date27 Feb 2020
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2020

Keywords

  • thymol
  • imidacloprid
  • tau-fluvalinate
  • Varroa destructor
  • acaricide

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