Acute ethanol ingestion produces dose-dependent effects on motor behavior in the honey bee (Apis mellifera)

J Insect Physiol. 2006 Nov-Dec;52(11-12):1243-53. doi: 10.1016/j.jinsphys.2006.09.006. Epub 2006 Sep 20.


Ethanol consumption produces characteristic behavioral states in animals that include sedation, disorientation, and disruption of motor function. Using individual honey bees, we assessed the effects of ethanol ingestion on motor function via continuous observations of their behavior. Consumption of 1 M sucrose solutions containing a range of ethanol doses led to hemolymph ethanol levels of approximately 40-100 mM. Using ethanol doses in this range, we observed time and dose-dependent effects of ethanol on the percent of time our subjects spent walking, stopped, or upside down, and on the duration and frequency of bouts of behavior. The effects on grooming and flying behavior were more complex. Behavioral recovery from ethanol treatment was both time and ethanol dose dependent, occurring between 12 and 24 h post-ingestion for low doses and at 24-48 h for higher doses. Furthermore, the amount of ethanol measured in honey bee hemolymph appeared to correlate with recovery. We predict that the honey bee will prove to be an excellent model system for studying the influence of ethanol on the neural mechanisms underlying behavior.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bees / drug effects*
  • Bees / physiology
  • Behavior, Animal / drug effects*
  • Central Nervous System Depressants / blood
  • Central Nervous System Depressants / pharmacology*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Ethanol / blood
  • Ethanol / pharmacology*
  • Hemolymph / chemistry
  • Motor Activity / drug effects*
  • Survival Analysis
  • Time Factors


  • Central Nervous System Depressants
  • Ethanol