Role of Grooming Behavior in Pesticide Resistance and Infection in Honey Bees (Apis mellifera)

Anna Foose, Rebecca Westwick, and Dr. Clare C. Rittschof, Department of Entomology, College of Agriculture, Food, and Environment, S123 Ag. Science Center North 40546

The unintentional consequences of pesticide usage, including non-target species exposure and chemical run-off, have attributed to declining numbers of pollinator species. Honey bees (Apis mellifera) possess a variety of social and behavioral traits that are beneficial to immune system function and advantageous when pesticide exposure or infection occurs. In this study, we investigate the benefits of grooming behaviors when honey bee immune systems are artificially activated by yeast and exposed to a commonly used pesticide, Tetradifon. Previous data showed that honey bees target their allogrooming efforts towards yeast-infected individuals. The function of the allogrooming in this case was unclear because external grooming does not cure internal yeast infections. Because grooming can indirectly improve health by other means, such as stress hormone regulation for the diseased individual, we hypothesized that allogrooming boosts immune function in honey bees. To test this hypothesis, we determined whether the act of receiving grooming increased survival when yeast-infected individuals were challenged with the additional stressor of a pesticide. We used data from previous research that found a positive correlation between aggression and allogrooming to design this study that compares survival rates of yeast-injected and/or Tetradifon treated honey bees in social and isolation settings. Isolation is known to induce hormonal changes resembling a stress response, so we expected that isolation could negatively impact survival. We observed allogrooming, self-grooming, and survival rates after 1 hour and 24 hours post-treatment in both social and isolation settings. No correlations between allogrooming and survival rates were found, but self-grooming was discovered to be a significant predictor of survival 24 hours after treatment. Here, we report the vital role of self-grooming on honey bee survival.

Additional Abstract Information

Presenter: Anna Foose

Institution: University of Kentucky

Type: Poster

Subject: Environmental Science & Sustainability

Status: Approved

Time and Location

Session: Poster 6
Date/Time: Tue 2:00pm-3:00pm
Session Number: 4655