Environmental pollutants can exert sublethal deleterious effects on animals. These include disruption of cognitive functions underlying crucial behaviours. While agrochemicals have been identified as a major threat to pollinators, metal pollutants, which are often found in complex mixtures, have so far been overlooked. Here, we assessed the impact of acute exposure to field-realistic concentrations of three common metal pollutants, lead, copper and arsenic, and their combinations, on honey bee appetitive learning and memory. All treatments involving single metals slowed down learning and disrupted memory retrieval at 24 h. Combinations of these metals had additive negative effects on both processes, suggesting common pathways of toxicity. Our results highlight the need to further assess the risks of metal pollution on invertebrates.

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