Home > Papers from 2015 > How the environment shapes the orientation flights of bees.

How the environment shapes the orientation flights of bees.

Before commencing foraging, honeybees will perform orientation flights (also called survey flights). These flights provide structured opportunities for individuals to learn about their hive location and environment. Using harmonic radar Degan et al have been able to produce an account of the orientation flights of a series of bees in unprecedented detail. These data confirm previous perceptions of these flights, i.e. that they increase in distance with experience and that flights consist of narrow loops with outward and inward portions covering similar ground. One additional and interesting aspect of the data is that during the loops of the orientation flight, bees often follow elongated structures in the environment; For instance, field boundaries or ditches. It seems likely that by following these structures bees are ensuring their world knowledge is based on the most salient and reliable environmental features.

Degen, J., Kirbach, A., Reiter, L., Lehmann, K., Norton, P., Storms, M., … & Menzel, R. (2015). Exploratory behaviour of honeybees during orientation flights. Animal Behaviour102, 45-57.
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