, Volume 6, Issue 2, pp 195-210

Spatial foraging patterns and colony energy status in the African honey bee,Apis mellifera scutellata

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The relationship between changes in foraging patterns (inferred from waggle dance activity) and colony energy status (inferred from brood rearing activity, food storage, and colony weight) was examined for the African honey bee during a period of relative resource abundance and resource dearth. When resources were more abundant mean foraging distances (about 400 m) and foraging areas (4–5 km2) were small, and colonies recruited to 12–19 different sites per day. Colony foraging ranges and sites visited increased slightly during the dearth period, yet foraging continued to be concentrated within less than 10 km2. The degree to which fluctuations in foraging patterns were correlated with colony energy status varied with the availability of floral resources. During periods of relative forage abundance, increases in foraging range and number of sites visited were significantly correlated with increases in brood rearing and colony weight. In contrast, colonies examined during periods of resource dearth exhibited no correlations between foraging areas, foraging distances, and fluctuations in brood rearing, food storage, or colony weight. Thus, during dearth periods colonies may not be able to coordinate foraging patterns with changes in colony energy status.