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Environ Toxicol Chem. 2009 Jan;28(1):113-22. doi: 10.1897/08-110.1.

Subchronic exposure of honeybees to sublethal doses of pesticides: effects on behavior.

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Centre de Recherches sur la Cognition Animale-UMR CNRS 5169, Université Paul Sabatier, 118 route de Narbonne, 31062 Toulouse cedex, France.


Laboratory bioassays were conducted to evaluate the effects on honeybee behavior of sublethal doses of insecticides chronically administered orally or by contact. Emergent honeybees received a daily dose of insecticide ranging from one-fifth to one-five-hundredth of the median lethal dose (LD50) during 11 d. After exposure to fipronil (0.1 and 0.01 ng/bee), acetamiprid (1 and 0.1 microg/bee), or thiamethoxam (1 and 0.1 ng/bee), behavioral functions of honeybees were tested on day 12. Fipronil, used at the dose of 0.1 ng/bee, induced mortality of all honeybees after one week of treatment. As a result of contact treatment at 0.01 ng/bee, honeybees spent significantly more time immobile in an open-field apparatus and ingested significantly more water. In the olfactory conditioning paradigm, fipronil-treated honeybees failed to discriminate between a known and an unknown odorant. Thiamethoxam by contact induced either a significant decrease of olfactory memory 24 h after learning at 0.1 ng/bee or a significant impairment of learning performance with no effect on memory at 1 ng/bee. Responsiveness to antennal sucrose stimulation was significantly decreased for high sucrose concentrations in honeybees treated orally with thiamethoxam (1 ng/bee). The only significant effect of acetamiprid (administered orally, 0.1 microg/bee) was an increase in responsiveness to water. The neonicotinoids acetamiprid and thiamethoxam tested at the highest dose (one-tenth and one-fifth of their oral LD50, respectively) and fipronil at one-five-hundredth of LD50 have limited effects on the motor, sensory, and cognitive functions of the honeybee. Our data on the intrinsic toxicity of the compounds after chronic exposure have to be taken into account for evaluation of risk to honeybees in field conditions.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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