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Neurobiol Learn Mem. 1996 Nov;66(3):267-82.

Maze learning by honeybees.

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Centre for Visual Sciences, Research School of Biological Sciences, Australian National University, Canberra, Australia.

Erratum in

  • Neurobiol Learn Mem 1997 Jul;68(1):102.


This study examines whether honeybees can learn to fly through complex mazes, in the presence or the absence of specific visual cues. The results are summarized as follows: 1. Bees can learn to fly through a complex maze by following a trail of colored marks. 2. Bees, initially trained to follow color marks through an initial part of the maze, are immediately able to use the same sign-tracking cue to find their way through the rest of the maze, which is unfamiliar to them. 3. Bees trained to follow color marks through a particular maze can use the same cue to negotiate a novel maze. 4. Bees trained to use a particular color to negotiate a maze can immediately use a novel color to negotiate the same maze or even a novel maze. 5. After learning to negotiate a maze by following colored marks, bees can find their way through the maze even when the marks are removed, albeit at reduced levels of accuracy. Thus, the trained bees do not rely solely on sign-tracking to find their way through the maze: they also acquire a spatial memory of the maze or at least a sequence of motor commands describing the correct path through it. 6. Bees can learn to use color as a signal even when it indicates the path through the maze in a symbolic way, for example, blue indicating a turn to the right and green a turn to the left. 7. Bees can learn an unmarked maze. Performance under these conditions is poorer than when marks are provided, but is still significantly better than chance level. 8. Control experiments rule out the use of external landmarks in all of these situations.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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