Home > Papers from 2012 > A new-old method for a new-old question

A new-old method for a new-old question

In their recent Animal Cognition paper, Najera and Jander present a compelling case for a greater study of interpatch foraging in honeybees as well as providing a simple methodology for asking questions about how bees set interpatch directions. Their logic, as to why we should be more interested in interpatch foraging, is sound. After all, the foraging routes of bees in natural conditions are usually multipatch, rather than straight paths out and back between hive and feeder. Though, it is not just an increase in the naturalness of the observed route behaviour that makes this an interesting idea. It is the fact that an experimentally controlled increase in route complexity allows us to ask a different type of navigational questions of trained bees. The methods introduced by Najera and Jander are simple, a circular table is used that has vertical rods evenly spaced on its perimeter, therefore departure bearings can be simply recorded by eye. To establish multi-patch routes the authors follow von Frisch and gradually move feeders away from the hive before incrementally seperating them. For tests, removing a feeder and observing the directions taken by trained bees as they seek another patch gives a direct read out of thee bee’s knowledge of interpatch directions. The authors present proof of concept that the method can provide interpretable data, although there are no possible mechanistic conclusions from these early experiments.

Najera, D, Jander, R (2012) Honeybee methodology, cognition, and theory: recording local directional decisions in interpatch foraging and interpreting their theoretical relevance. Animal Cognition. 15(2), 251-263

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Categories: Papers from 2012
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