Original article


, Volume 43, Issue 3, pp 229-243

First online:

Vector integration and novel shortcutting in honeybee navigation

  • Randolf MenzelAffiliated withInstitut für Biologie, Freie Universität Berlin Email author 
  • , Konstantin LehmannAffiliated withInstitut für Biologie, Freie Universität Berlin
  • , Gisela ManzAffiliated withInstitut für Biologie, Freie Universität Berlin
  • , Jacqueline FuchsAffiliated withInstitut für Biologie, Freie Universität Berlin
  • , Miriam KoblofskyAffiliated withTheodor-Boveri-Institut für Biowissenschaften, Universität Würzburg
  • , Uwe GreggersAffiliated withInstitut für Biologie, Freie Universität Berlin

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Honeybees that had been trained to visit two feeders simultaneously were released at five sites located further away from the training area. Harmonic radar tracking was used to record the complete homing flights. The bees performed multiple straight flight components (SFCs) between curved search flights. SFCs reflect vector directions between the two feeding sites and the respective vectors between the feeding sites and the hive. Direct flights back to the hive were also observed. The latter belong to a homing strategy that requires the bee to identify its location relative to the hive. We interpret these two navigation strategies as reflecting the application of a directional component of novel shortcut flights. Taken together, our findings indicate that bees apply several different directional components of vectors which are either experienced directly during flight or derived from long-distance vector integration or mapping.


navigation vector integration shortcut flights cognitive map