, Volume 89, Issue 1, pp 113-117

Honeybees mark with scent and reject recently visited flowers

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Experimental evidence is reported for flower-marking by honeybees (Apis mellifera ligustica) while they were foraging on an artificial patch of flowers yielding a continuous and equal flow of sucrose solution. Honeybees marked with scent and rejected all recently visited and nectar-depleted flowers. The short fade-out time of this scent allowed discrimination of flowers that temporarily provided no food. The repellent nature of this scent mark was demonstrated by the use of an air extractor connected to the patch; when the apparatus was turned on, the rejection behaviour disappeared. The movement pattern of foraging bees also contributed to foraging efficiency, as the probability of an immediate return to the flower just abandoned was very low. However, when a quick repeat visit took place, the presence of the repellent scent-mark promoted rapid rejection.