Evaluating sub-lethal effects of orchard-applied pyrethroids using video-tracking software to quantify honey bee behaviors

Erin M. Ingram, Julie Augustin, Marion D. Ellis, Blair D. Siegfried

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Managed honey bee, Apis mellifera L., colonies are contracted to pollinate fruit and nut orchards improving crop quality and yield. Colonies placed in orchards are potentially exposed to pyrethroid insecticides used for broad-spectrum pest control. Pyrethroids have been reported to pose minimal risk to bees due to their low application rates in the field and putative repellent properties. This repellency is believed to alter foraging behavior with the benefit of preventing bees from encountering a lethal dose in the field. However, sub-lethal exposure to pyrethroids may adversely impact bee behavior potentially resulting in social dysfunction or disruption of foraging. This study quantified behaviors associated with sub-lethal exposure to orchard-applied pyrethroids including, lambda-cyhalothrin, esfenvalerate, and permethrin, using video tracking software, Ethovision XT (Noldus Information Technologies). Bee locomotion, social interaction, and time spent near a food source were measured over a 24-h period. Bees treated with a pyrethroid traveled 30-71% less than control bees. Social interaction time decreased by 43% for bees treated with a high sub-lethal dose of esfenvalerate. Bees exposed to a high sub-lethal dose of permethrin spent 67% less time in social interaction and spent more than 5 times as long in the food zone compared to control bees.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)272-277
Number of pages6
StatePublished - Sep 1 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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