The Significance of Odor Cues and Dance Language Information for the Food Search Behavior of Honeybees (Hymenoptera: Apidae)

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Although several independent lines of evidence show that bees can make use of information provided by their dance language, there is an ongoing controversy about the significance of the dance information versus odor cues in the search behavior of recruited bees. A series of experiments was performed to assess the relative significance of dance information and odors for the site-specific search of recruit bees. In these experiments recruit bees were trapped automatically at arrays of artificial flowers at various distances from the hive. The distribution of directions in which the recruits searched for food was compared between recruitment by dancers performing well-oriented dances on the vertical side of the comb and dancers performing disoriented dances on a horizontal comb. The results show quantitatively that bees use both odor cues and the dance information. The greater the distance to the feeding site, the greater is the relative significance of the dance information.

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