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Sci Rep. 2013;3:2045. doi: 10.1038/srep02045.

A right antenna for social behaviour in honeybees.

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Centre for Neuroscience and Animal Behaviour, University of New England, Armidale, NSW 2450, Australia.


Sophisticated cognitive abilities have been documented in honeybees, possibly an aspect of their complex sociality. In vertebrates brain asymmetry enhances cognition and directional biases of brain function are a putative adaptation to social behaviour. Here we show that honeybees display a strong lateral preference to use their right antenna in social interactions. Dyads of bees tested using only their right antennae (RA) contacted after shorter latency and were significantly more likely to interact positively (proboscis extension) than were dyads of bees using only their left antennae (LA). The latter were more likely to interact negatively (C-responses) even though they were from the same hive. In dyads from different hives C-responses were higher in RA than LA dyads. Hence, RA controls social behaviour appropriate to context. Therefore, in invertebrates, as well as vertebrates, lateral biases in behaviour appear to be associated with requirements of social life.

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