Home > Papers from 2012 > Are there distinct navigational behaviours in the vicinity of the hive?

Are there distinct navigational behaviours in the vicinity of the hive?

The learning and survey flights of wasps and bees have been well-studied and, based on these accounts, Jander has described a 3 part structure to the flights: (1) a focal phase (the characteristic arcs); (2) a peripheral phase (looping around the goal); (3) a distal phase (large scale survey flights). However, it should be noted that many people think the structure is much more fluid and continuous. The experiments here set out to prove that there is a specific orientation module associated with the peripheral phase of learning flights. Bees are trained to a feeder (15, 30, or 60m away) then, in tests, displaced to other locations from where their departure bearings are recorded. Two particular bearings would be informative: bees may aim directly to the hive (called peripheral orientation by the authors) or they may reproduce their habitual feeder-hive compass direction (called distal orientation). The experiments show nicely that within a certain range, bees can aim directly to the hive but at larger distances bees can only rely on their habitual learnt feeder-hive compass bearing. These experiments do provide a method for mapping out the visual catchment area of a hive, but there is no evidence of a different visual mechanism to “focal” navigation, either from these experiments or through consideration of the literature.

Palikij, J., Ebert, E., Preston, M., McBride, A. & Jander, R. 2012 Evidence for the honeybee’s place knowledge in the vicinity of the hive. Journal of Insect Physiology 58, 1289-1298 doi: 10.1016/j.jinsphys.2012.07.001

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