Free Access
Volume 33, Number 5, September-October 2002
Page(s) 425 - 432

Apidologie 33 (2002) 425-432
DOI: 10.1051/apido:2002033

Behavioural methods to assess the effects of pesticides on honey bees

Minh-Hà Pham-Delèguea, Axel Decourtyea, Laure Kaisera and James Devillersb

a  Laboratoire de Neurobiologie Comparée des Invertébrés, INRA, BP 23, 91440 Bures-sur-Yvette, France
b  CTIS, 3 chemin de la Gravière, 69140 Rillieux La Pape, France

(Received 2 February 2001; revised 11 January 2002; accepted 24 April 2002)

We reported on the use of experimental procedures dealing with these behavioural skills in the assessment of pesticide effects. The relevance of the following methods are discussed: (1) use of automatic activity counters set at the hive entrance to establish the balance between outgoing and incoming worker bees; (2) observation of the homing flights of bees; (3) the analysis of the information encoded in the dances of returning foragers; and (4) recording of the conditioned proboscis extension response on restrained bees to evaluate individual learning performances involved in foraging behaviour. These behavioural assays could be developed for sublethal toxicity assessment. However, careful validation of the tests is needed before being used in a routine evaluation procedure. At a minimum, they are valuable tools to understand the mechanisms underlying insecticide toxicity.

Key words: Apis mellifera / ecotoxicology / risk assessment / pesticide / behaviour

Correspondence and reprints: Minh-Hà Pham-Delègue

© INRA, EDP Sciences, DIB, AGIB 2002