Methyl parathion modifies foraging behaviour in honeybees (Apis mellifera)

Ecotoxicology. 2005 May;14(4):431-7. doi: 10.1007/s10646-004-1348-3.


We examined the effects of sublethal doses of an organophosphorus insecticide, Methyl Parathion (MeP), on the foraging behaviour of honeybees (Apis mellifera ligustica) in a flight cage. The results revealed that MeP modified the frequency of visits to a feeding station to which the bees had previously been trained. A dose of 50 ng per animal elicited an increase in the frequency of visits to the feeder, compared to control animals. A dose of 10 ng, on the other hand, led initially to a decrease in the visit frequency, followed by an increase to a level above that of the controls. A hypothesis is presented to account for the way in which MeP affects foraging behaviour. We propose that the behavioural assay presented here could be useful as a preliminary screening test to study sublethal effects of pesticides on foraging performance in honeybees.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bees*
  • Biological Assay
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Exploratory Behavior
  • Feeding Behavior*
  • Insecticides / toxicity*
  • Methyl Parathion / toxicity*


  • Insecticides
  • Methyl Parathion