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

A - Papers appearing in refereed journals

Cook, S. M., Sandoz, J-C., Martin, A. P., Murray, D. A., Poppy, G. M. and Williams, I. H. 2005. Could learning of pollen odours by honey bees (Apis mellifera ) play a role in their foraging behaviour? Physiological Entomology. 30 (2), pp. 164-174.

AuthorsCook, S. M., Sandoz, J-C., Martin, A. P., Murray, D. A., Poppy, G. M. and Williams, I. H.
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.

KeywordsEntomology
Year of Publication2005
JournalPhysiological Entomology
Journal citation30 (2), pp. 164-174
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)doi:10.1111/j.1365-3032.2005.00445.x
Open accessPublished as non-open access
Funder project or code509
513
ISSN03076962
PublisherWiley

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