Send to

Choose Destination
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2005 Feb 22;102(8):3040-5. Epub 2005 Feb 14.

Honey bees navigate according to a map-like spatial memory.

Author information

Institut für Biologie, Neurobiologie, Freie Universität Berlin, Königin-Luise-Strasse 28/30, 14195 Berlin, Germany.


By using harmonic radar, we report the complete flight paths of displaced bees. Test bees forage at a feeder or are recruited by a waggle dance indicating the feeder. The flights are recorded after the bees are captured when leaving the hive or the feeder and are released at an unexpected release site. A sequence of behavioral routines become apparent: (i) initial straight flights in which they fly the course that they were on when captured (foraging bees) or that they learned during dance communication (recruited bees); (ii) slow search flights with frequent changes of direction in which they attempt to "get their bearings"; and (iii) straight and rapid flights directed either to the hive or first to the feeding station and then to the hive. These straight homing flights start at locations all around the hive and at distances far out of the visual catchment area around the hive or the feeding station. Two essential criteria of a map-like spatial memory are met by these results: bees can set course at any arbitrary location in their familiar area, and they can choose between at least two goals. This finding suggests a rich, map-like organization of spatial memory in navigating honey bees.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for HighWire Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center