Comparing injection, feeding and topical application methods for treatment of honeybees with octopamine

Andrew B. Barron, Joanna Maleszka, Robert K. Vander Meer, Gene E. Robinson, Ryszard Maleszka

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Entomologists have used a range of techniques to treat insects with neuroactive compounds, but it is not always clear whether different treatment methods are equally effective in delivering a compound to a target organ. Here, we used five different techniques to treat honeybees with 3H-octopamine (3H-OA), and analysed the distribution of the 3H radiolabelled compound within different tissues and how it changed over time. All treatment methods, including injection of the median ocellus, resulted in 3H-OA detection in all parts of the honeybee. Injection through the median ocellus was the most effective method for delivering 3H-OA to the brain. Topical application of 3H-OA dissolved in dimethylformamide (dMF) to the thorax was as effective as thoracic injections of 3H-OA in delivering 3H-OA to the brain, but topical applications to the abdomen were less so. Most of the 3H-OA applied topically remained associated with the cuticle and the tissues of the body segment to which it had been applied. For all treatment methods, 3H-OA was rapidly lost from the brain and head capsule, and accumulated in the abdomen. Our findings demonstrate the value of thoracic topical treatment with compounds dissolved in dMF as an effective non-invasive method for short-term, systemic pharmacological treatments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)187-194
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of insect physiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2007


  • Apis mellifera
  • Biogenic amines
  • Honeybee
  • Octopamine
  • Pharmacology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Insect Science


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