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Journal of economic entomology

Acute Exposure to Worst-Case Concentrations of Amitraz Does Not Affect Honey Bee Learning, Short-Term Memory, or Hemolymph Octopamine Levels.


PMID 28028168

Abstract

Amitraz, an acaricide used to treat Varroa destructor Anderson & Trueman, is one of the most commonly detected pesticides in honey bee (Apis mellifera L.) hives. Acaricides sometimes negatively impact honey bee cognition, but potential effects of amitraz on honey bee learning have been rarely studied. We topically exposed foragers to 95th percentile field-relevant levels of amitraz and, 24 h later, tested the ability of bees to associate a sucrose reward with a conditioned odor (learning response) using the proboscis extension response (PER). We then tested the ability of the bees to retain this memory 1 h and 2 h post-conditioning. Because amitraz is thought to affect octopamine metabolism in honey bees, and because octopamine is directly related to honey bee learning and memory, we also examined effects of exposure to amitraz on octopamine levels in honey bee hemolymph. We found that acute exposure to 95th percentile doses of amitraz had no impact on honey bee learning or short-term memory as measured by PER. Concentrations of octopamine in hemolymph from our low amitraz treatment were 1.4-fold higher than control levels, but other treatments had no effect. Our results from worst-case acute exposure experiments with worker bees in the laboratory suggest that typical field-relevant (within hive) exposures to amitraz probably have little effect on honey bee learning and memory.

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