Pollen Contaminated With Field-Relevant Levels of Cyhalothrin Affects Honey Bee Survival, Nutritional Physiology, and Pollen Consumption Behavior

J Econ Entomol. 2016 Feb;109(1):41-8. doi: 10.1093/jee/tov301.


Honey bees are exposed to a variety of environmental factors that impact their health, including nutritional stress, pathogens, and pesticides. In particular, there has been increasing evidence that sublethal exposure to pesticides can cause subtle, yet important effects on honey bee health and behavior. Here, we add to this body of knowledge by presenting data on bee-collected pollen containing sublethal levels of cyhalothrin, a pyrethroid insecticide, which, when fed to young honey bees, resulted in significant changes in lifespan, nutritional physiology,and behavior. For the first time, we show that when young, nest-aged bees are presented with pollen containing field-relevant levels of cyhalothrin, they reduce their consumption of contaminated pollen. This indicates that, at least for some chemicals, young bees are able to detect contamination in pollen and change their behavioral response, even if the contamination levels do not prevent foraging honey bees from collecting the contaminated pollen.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animal Nutritional Physiological Phenomena
  • Animals
  • Bees / drug effects*
  • Bees / physiology
  • Feeding Behavior
  • Insecticides / toxicity*
  • Longevity
  • Nitriles / toxicity*
  • Pesticide Residues / toxicity*
  • Pollen / chemistry
  • Pyrethrins / toxicity*


  • Insecticides
  • Nitriles
  • Pesticide Residues
  • Pyrethrins
  • cyhalothrin