The effect of conspecific cues on honey bee foraging behavior
Foraging honey bees (Apis mellifera) seem to use the presence of conspecific foragers as cues for flower quality. However, there is disagreement regarding how a conspecific cue is perceived by other foragers (enhancement or inhibition). Most studies manipulate the total number of bees foraging in an arena or the presence or absence of a bee on a flower and then observe the behavior of one forager in response to a single conspecific, which does not reflect natural foraging. We tested how a range of conspecifics on flowers affected on which flowers foraging honey bees landed. We trained students from a biology class for non-STEM majors to collect data and tested whether the number of conspecifics on flowers influences on which flower foragers land. We found that foragers land more frequently on flowers occupied by more conspecifics, which supports the hypothesis that conspecifics are cues for local enhancement. Our results increase our understanding of how honey bees forage once at a flower patch.
Keywordsforaging behavior honey bee Apis mellifera floral resource social cue
We thank the students from the “Sustaining Life” undergraduate class at the University of Denver for helping to collect data and the teaching assistants from all the lab sections of the course who helped the students run the experiment (Faith Lierheimer, Lisa Clark, Claudia Hallagan, and lab director, Angie Hebel). We thank the Murphy lab, the University of Denver Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (DUEEB) group, and Amy Toth for helpful suggestions on earlier versions that greatly improved our manuscript.
ESHL and SM conceived the project and designed the experiment. ESHL, SM, and JM trained students to perform the experiment. ESHL, SM, JM, and MV performed data collection. CD and MV performed statistical analysis. ESHL wrote the first draft of the paper, and all authors helped write sections of the paper or contributed substantially to revisions. All authors have read and approved the final version of this paper.
We thank the University of Denver Undergraduate Research Center for funding our research with an award to ESHL.
- Ballen, C.J., Blum, J.E., Brownell, S., Hebert, S., Hewlett, J., et al (2017) A call to develop course-based undergraduate research experiences (CUREs) for Nonmajors courses. CBE Life Sci. Educ., 16, 1–7.Google Scholar
- Bates, D., Machler, M., Bolker, B. & Walkter, S. (2015) Fitting linear mixed-effects models using lme4. J. Stat. Softw., 1–48.Google Scholar
- von Frisch, K. (1967) The Dance Language and Orientation of Bees. The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Cambridge.Google Scholar
- Horna Lowell, E.S., Morris, J.A., Vidal, M.C., Durso, C.S. & Murphy, S.M. (2019) Data from: The effect of conspecific cues on honey bee foraging behavior. Dyrad Digital Repository. https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.3rn48cm.
- Preisser, E.L., Bolnick, D.I. & Benard, M.E. (2005) Scared to Death ? The Effects of Intimidation and Consumption in Predator-Prey Interactions Published by : Ecological Society of America SCARED TO DEATH ? THE EFFECTS OF INTIMIDATION AND CONSUMPTION IN PREDATOR-PREY INTERACTIONS. Ecology, 86, 501–509.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- R Core Team (2011) R: A language and environment for statistical computing. R Foundation for Statistical Computing, Vienna. http://www.R-project.org/. Accessed June 2018.
- Sumpter, D. & Pratt, S. (2003) A modelling framework for understanding social insect foraging. Behav. Ecol. Sociobiol., 53, 131–144.Google Scholar
- Tautz, J. & Sandeman, D.C. (2003) Recruitment of honeybees to non-scented food sources. J. Comp. Physiol. A, 189, 293–300.Google Scholar
- Wilson, E.O. (1975) Sociobiology: The new Synthesis. In Sociobiology: The New Synthesis. Harvard University Press, Cambridge.Google Scholar
- Wood, S.N. (2011) Fast stable restricted maximum likelihood and marginal likelihood estimation of semiparametric generalized linear models. J. R. Stat. Soc. Series B. 73, 3–36.Google Scholar