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Could learning of pollen odours by honey bees (Apis mellifera) play a role in their foraging behaviour?

Could learning of pollen odours by honey bees (Apis mellifera) play a role in their foraging behaviour?
Could learning of pollen odours by honey bees (Apis mellifera) play a role in their foraging behaviour?
The role of pollen odour cues in the foraging behaviour of honey bees (Apis mellifera L.) is poorly understood. Using classical conditioning of the proboscis extension response, in which bees learn to associate an odour with a sucrose reward, the present study tests whether odours of bee-collected pollen from the hive environment or odours of fresh pollen on the anthers of flowers could be used in pollen foraging. Honey bees efficiently learn odours from field-bean (Vicia faba) bee-collected pollen and oilseed-rape (Brassica napus) bee-collected pollen, hand-collected pollen, anthers and whole flowers, demonstrating that honey bees can learn pollen odours associatively in biologically realistic concentrations. Honey bees learn pollen odours of oilseed rape better than field bean and, although they generalize these two odours, they easily distinguish between them in discrimination tests, suggesting that pollen odours may be used in species recognition/discrimination. There is little evidence that honey bees can recognize whole flowers based on previous experience of bee-collected pollen odour. However, they generalize the odours of oilseed-rape anthers and whole flowers, suggesting that anther pollen in situ may play a more prominent role than bee-collected pollen in foraging behaviour.
Discrimination, learning, odour, pollen, proboscis extension conditioning
0307-6962
164-174
Cook, Samantha M.
ea5ea5ae-26bc-4565-ac4b-a521cf7d389a
Sandoz, Jean-Christophe
5c30027d-cbf9-491a-8e3b-e5489ad2652a
Martin, Andrew P.
3bdae639-c6f7-40cb-9cb4-c2db78bc1283
Murray, Darren A.
701a7e41-985c-4f98-abb0-7c149aa44c14
Poppy, Guy M.
e18524cf-10ae-4ab4-b50c-e73e7d841389
Williams, Ingrid H.
bf00bec0-55f4-450f-a6e2-ebaaa966b75b
Cook, Samantha M.
ea5ea5ae-26bc-4565-ac4b-a521cf7d389a
Sandoz, Jean-Christophe
5c30027d-cbf9-491a-8e3b-e5489ad2652a
Martin, Andrew P.
3bdae639-c6f7-40cb-9cb4-c2db78bc1283
Murray, Darren A.
701a7e41-985c-4f98-abb0-7c149aa44c14
Poppy, Guy M.
e18524cf-10ae-4ab4-b50c-e73e7d841389
Williams, Ingrid H.
bf00bec0-55f4-450f-a6e2-ebaaa966b75b

Cook, Samantha M., Sandoz, Jean-Christophe, Martin, Andrew P., Murray, Darren A., Poppy, Guy M. and Williams, Ingrid H. (2005) Could learning of pollen odours by honey bees (Apis mellifera) play a role in their foraging behaviour? Physiological Entomology, 30 (2), 164-174. (doi:10.1111/j.1365-3032.2005.00445.x).

Record type: Article

Abstract

The role of pollen odour cues in the foraging behaviour of honey bees (Apis mellifera L.) is poorly understood. Using classical conditioning of the proboscis extension response, in which bees learn to associate an odour with a sucrose reward, the present study tests whether odours of bee-collected pollen from the hive environment or odours of fresh pollen on the anthers of flowers could be used in pollen foraging. Honey bees efficiently learn odours from field-bean (Vicia faba) bee-collected pollen and oilseed-rape (Brassica napus) bee-collected pollen, hand-collected pollen, anthers and whole flowers, demonstrating that honey bees can learn pollen odours associatively in biologically realistic concentrations. Honey bees learn pollen odours of oilseed rape better than field bean and, although they generalize these two odours, they easily distinguish between them in discrimination tests, suggesting that pollen odours may be used in species recognition/discrimination. There is little evidence that honey bees can recognize whole flowers based on previous experience of bee-collected pollen odour. However, they generalize the odours of oilseed-rape anthers and whole flowers, suggesting that anther pollen in situ may play a more prominent role than bee-collected pollen in foraging behaviour.

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More information

Published date: June 2005
Keywords: Discrimination, learning, odour, pollen, proboscis extension conditioning

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 56284
URI: https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/56284
ISSN: 0307-6962
PURE UUID: 24a0335b-6d6f-446c-bf28-0849269b40a2

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Date deposited: 07 Aug 2008
Last modified: 13 Mar 2019 20:35

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