Home > Papers from 2011 > Large Scale Homing in Honeybees

Large Scale Homing in Honeybees

The long-distance navigational ability of bees is undoubted, but the scale of this behaviour means that it represents a challenge when people try to study the detailed mechanisms underpinning it. We know lots about bee navigation because great scientists, not least von Frisch, have been able to use simple/elegant experiments to uncover basic mechanisms. Going forward, there is some expectation that radar tracking will prove to be a particularly powerful tool for studying long-distance navigation in bees. However, that technique is currently limited (not least by cost and range).

Pahl et al. present a really nice example of how you can use more readily available technologies to study large-scale navigation. They used RFID to record homing speed and success for a large cohort of bees released at multiple sites up to 13 Km from their hive. They demonstrate that very large features of the environment, such as mountains, provide strong directional cues by which bees can visually navigate.

Using this technique, further explorations of the use of natural visual ‘landmarks’  promise to be fruitful.

Pahl M, Zhu H, Tautz J, Zhang S, 2011 Large Scale Homing in Honeybees. PLoS ONE 6(5): e19669. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0019669

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Categories: Papers from 2011
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