How dancing honey bees keep track of changes: the role of inspector bees
2012 (English)In: Behavioral Ecology, ISSN 1045-2249, E-ISSN 1465-7279, Vol. 23, no 3, 588-596 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
How do honey bees track changes in their foraging environment? Previously, 2 complementary mechanisms have been identified by which bees can effectively switch between food sources when their relative quality changes. First, an increase in profitability of a food source elicits an increase in waggle dances (the bees' recruitment mechanism) for that source. Second, bees that have retired from foraging at a food source make occasional inspection visits to that food source and resume foraging if its quality improves. Here, we investigate, using both field experiments and a mathematical model, the relative importance of these 2 mechanisms. By manipulating dance information available to the bees, we find that when food sources change quality frequently, inspector bees provide a rapid response to changes, whereas the waggle dance contributes to a response over a longer time period. The bees' ability to switch feeders without dance language information was found to be robust with respect to the spatial configuration of the feeders. Our results show that individual memory, in the form of inspector bees, and collective communication can interact to allow an insect colony to adapt to changes on both short and long timescales.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2012. Vol. 23, no 3, 588-596 p.
Apis mellifera, collective memory, dynamic environment, foraging, honey bee, mathematical modeling
Mathematics Biological Sciences
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-173619DOI: 10.1093/beheco/ars002ISI: 000302485200017OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-173619DiVA: diva2:525761