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Influence of visual targets and landmarks on honey bee foraging and waggle dancing.

  • Kheradmand, Bahram
  • Cassano, Julian
  • Gray, Selena
  • Nieh, James C
Publication Date
Apr 01, 2020
eScholarship - University of California
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Animals use diverse sensory stimuli to navigate their environment and to recognize rewarding food sources. Honey bees use visual attributes of the targeted food source, such as its color, shape, size, direction and distance from the hive, and the landmarks around it to navigate during foraging. They transmit the location information of the food source to other bees if it is highly rewarding. To investigate the relative importance of these attributes, we trained bees to feeders in two different experiments. In the first experiment, we asked whether bees prefer to land on (a) a similar feeder at a different distance on the same heading or on (b) a visually distinct feeder located at the exact same location. We found that, within a short foraging range, bees relied heavily on the color and the shape of the food source and to a lesser extent on its distance from the hive. In the second experiment, we asked if moving the main landmark or the feeder (visual target) influenced recruitment dancing for the feeder. We found that foragers took longer to land and danced fewer circuits when the location of the food source, or a major landmark associated with it, changed. These results demonstrate that prominent visual attributes of food sources and landmarks are evidently more reliable than distance information and that foraging bees heavily utilize these visual cues at the later stages of their journey.

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