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Anim Cogn. 2012 Mar;15(2):251-63. doi: 10.1007/s10071-011-0450-1. Epub 2011 Sep 13.

Honeybee methodology, cognition, and theory: recording local directional decisions in interpatch foraging and interpreting their theoretical relevance.

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Washburn University, 1700 SW College Ave., Topeka, KS 66621, USA.


Investigations made into the cognitive decision making of honeybees (Apis mellifera) traveling from one flower patch to another flower patch (interpatch foraging) are few. To facilitate such research, we present methods to artificially emulate interpatch foraging and quantify the immediate decision making of honeybees (within 50 cm) choosing to fly an interpatch path. These "Interpatch Methods" are validated, applied, and shown to produce novel information for the field of honeybee spatial cognition. Generally, we demonstrate that a single foraging cohort of honeybees is shown to be capable of making decisions based upon different sets of learned cues, in the exact same context. Specifically, both terminal beacon orientation cues and compass navigation cues can guide the cognitive decision making of interpatch foraging honeybees; our bees chose both cues equally. Finally, the theoretical importance of decision making for interpatch paths is compared with the other foraging paths (outward and homing) with respect to the information available to recruited foragers and scout foragers. We conclude that the ability to analyze interpatch foraging is critical for a more complete understanding of honeybee foraging cognition and that our methods are capable of providing that understanding.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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