Pollinators are exposed to numerous parasites and pathogens when foraging on flowers. These biological stressors may affect critical cognitive abilities required for foraging. Here, we tested whether exposure to Nosema ceranae, one of the most widespread parasites of honey bees also found in wild pollinators, impacts cognition in bumblebees. We investigated different forms of olfactory learning and memory using conditioning of the proboscis extension reflex. Seven days after being exposed to parasite spores, bumblebees showed lower performance in absolute, differential and reversal learning than controls. The consistent observations across different types of olfactory learning indicate a general negative effect of N. ceranae exposure that did not specifically target particular brain areas or neural processes. We discuss the potential mechanisms by which N. ceranae impairs bumblebee cognition and the broader consequences for populations of pollinators.

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