Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 22, Issue 4, pp 229–237 | Cite as

Assessing the benefits of cooperation in honeybee foraging: search costs, forage quality, and competitive ability

  • Thomas D. Seeley
  • P. Kirk Visscher


The foragers in honeybee colonies cooperate by sharing information about rich sources of food. This study examines three hypotheses about the benefits of this cooperation: (H1) it decreases foragers' costs in finding new food sources, (H2) it increases the quality of the food sources located by foragers, and (H3) it increases the ability of a colony's foragers to compete for high-quality food sources. To test each hypothesis, we identified a critical pattern in the foraging process which, if observed, would cast doubt on that hypothesis, and then gathered data to check for these patterns. Our observations do not support the first hypothesis, but do support the second and third. These results, in addition to helping us understand the functional significance of the honeybee's dance language, provide insights into the colonial organization of foraging by honeybees.


Food Source Functional Significance Rich Source Competitive Ability Search Cost 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thomas D. Seeley
    • 1
  • P. Kirk Visscher
    • 1
  1. 1.Section of Neurobiology and BehaviorCornell UniversityIthacaUSA

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