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J Comp Physiol A. 1988 May;163(1):145-50.

The retrieval of visuo-spatial memories by honeybees.

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MRC Research Group in Neurophysiology, School of Biological Sciences, University of Sussex, Brighton, United Kingdom.


In order to explore how honeybees manage to retrieve the right landmark-memory in the right place, we trained bees along a short foraging route which consisted of two identical huts 33 m apart. Bees entered each hut to collect a drop of sucrose on the floor. The location of the drop was defined by the same arrangement of four blue and yellow cylindrical landmarks. However, in one hut the drop was between two yellow cylinders and in two other it was to the east of the blue cylinders. On tests with the sucrose missing, bees tended to search in the appropriate area in each hut (Fig. 1), thus showing that they used cues other than the sight of the local landmarks to select the appropriate memory. In a second experiment, the position of the sucrose was specified by yellow cylinders in one hut and by blue triangles in the other. When the arrays were swapped between huts, bees searched in the position specified by the array they encountered (Fig. 2). Thus, memories can be triggered by visual features of local landmarks. Bees were also trained outside to collect food from two platforms 40 m apart. The location of sucrose on one platform was defined by yellow cylinders, and on the other it was defined by blue triangles. When these arrays were exchanged between platforms, bees searched on each platform as though the landmarks had not been swapped. It seems that the more distant surroundings, which fill most of the visual field, may be more potent than the local landmarks in deciding which memory should be retrieved.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS).

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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