Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 66, Issue 4, pp 583–592 | Cite as

How habitat affects the benefits of communication in collectively foraging honey bees

Original Paper

Abstract

Honey bees (Apis mellifera) use the dance language to symbolically convey information about the location of floral resources from within the nest. To figure out why this unique ability evolved, we need to understand the benefits it offers to the colony. Previous studies have shown that, in fact, the location information in the dance is not always beneficial. We ask, in which ecological habitats do honey bee colonies actually benefit from the dance language, and what is it about those habitats that makes communication useful? In this study, we examine the effects of floral distribution patterns on the benefits of dance communication across five different habitats. In each habitat, we manipulated colonies' ability to communicate and measured their foraging success, while simultaneously characterizing the naturally occurring floral distribution. We find that communication is most beneficial when floral species richness is high and patches contain many flowers. These are ecological features that could have helped shape the evolution of the honey bee dance language.

Keywords

Apis mellifera Foraging Communication Species richness Spatial ecology Resource distribution 

References

  1. Anderson C (2001) The adaptive value of inactive foragers and the scout–recruit system in honey bee (Apis mellifera) colonies. Behav Ecol 12:111–119CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Ashton PS (1988) Dipterocarp biology as a window to the understanding of tropical forest structure. Annu Rev Ecol Syst 19:347–370. doi:10.1146/annurev.es.19.110188.002023 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Barth FG, Hrncir M, Jarau S (2008) Signals and cues in the recruitment behavior of stingless bees (Meliponini). J Comp Physiol A 194:313–327. doi:10.1007/s00359-008-0321-7 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bawa KS (1990a) Reproductive ecology of tropical forest plants. UNESCO, ParisGoogle Scholar
  5. Bawa KS (1990b) Plant–pollinator interactions in tropical rain forests. Annu Rev Ecol Syst 21:399–422. doi:10.1146/annurev.es.21.110190.002151 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Beekman M, Lew J (2008) Foraging in honeybees—when does it pay to dance? Behav Ecol 19:255–261. doi:10.1093/beheco/arm117 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Buchmann SL (1987) The ecology of oil flowers and their bees. Annu Rev Ecol Syst 18:343–369CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Cook SM, Awmack CS, Murray DA, Williams IH (2003) Are honey bees' foraging preferences affected by pollen amino acid composition? Ecol Entomol 28:622–627. doi:10.1046/j.1365-2311.2003.00548.x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Dechaume-Moncharmont FX, Dornhaus A, Houston AI, McNamara JM, Collins EJ, Franks NR (2005) The hidden cost of information in collective foraging. P Roy Soc B-Biol Sci 272:1689CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Diggle P (1983) Statistical analysis of spatial point patterns. Academic Press, London; New YorkGoogle Scholar
  11. Dorai-Raj S (2009) binom: binomial confidence intervals for several parameterizationsGoogle Scholar
  12. Dornhaus A, Chittka L (1999) Insect behaviour: evolutionary origins of bee dances. Nature 401:38CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Dornhaus A, Chittka L (2004) Why do honey bees dance? Behav Ecol Sociobiol 55:395–401CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Dornhaus A, Klugl F, Oechslein C, Puppe F, Chittka L (2006) Benefits of recruitment in honey bees: effects of ecology and colony size in an individual-based model. Behav Ecol 17:336–344. doi:10.1093/beheco/arj036 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Engel MS, Schultz TR (1997) Phylogeny and behavior in honey bees (Hymenoptera: Apidae). Ann Entomol Soc Am 90:43–53Google Scholar
  16. Guilhaumon F (2011) mmSAR: mmSAR is an R package for the modelling of the species–area relationship (SAR)Google Scholar
  17. Hellmich RL, Rothenbuhler WC (1986) Relationship between different amounts of brood and the collection and use of pollen by the honey bee (Apis mellifera). Apidologie 17:8. doi:10.1051/apido:19860102 Google Scholar
  18. Janzen D (1975) Ecology of plants in the tropics. Edward Arnold, LondonGoogle Scholar
  19. Kirchner WH, Grasser A (1998) The significance of odor cues and dance language information for the food search behavior of honeybees (Hymenoptera: Apidae). J Insect Behav 11:169–178CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Lindauer M (1956) Über die Verständigung bei indischen Bienen. Z Vergl Physiol 38:521–557. doi:10.1007/BF00341108 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Liu F-L, Zhang X-W, Chai J-P, Yang D-R (2005) Pollen phenolics and regulation of pollen foraging in honeybee colony. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 59:582–588. doi:10.1007/s00265-005-0084-x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. MacArthur R (1972) Geographical ecology: patterns in the distribution of species. Harper & Row, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  23. McLellan AR (1976) Factors affecting pollen harvesting by the honeybee. J Appl Ecol 13:801–811. doi:10.2307/2402256 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Monod J (1950) La technique de culture continue théorie et applications. Ann I Pasteur Paris 79:390–410Google Scholar
  25. Nieh JC, Contrera FAL, Rangel J, Imperatriz-Fonseca VL (2003) Effect of food location and quality on recruitment sounds and success in two stingless bees, Melipona mandacaia and Melipona bicolor. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 55:87–94. doi:10.1007/s00265-003-0680-6 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Oksanen J, Blanchet FG, Kindt R, Legendre P, O'Hara RB, Simpson GL, Solymos P, Stevens MHH, Wagner H (2011) vegan: community ecology packageGoogle Scholar
  27. O'Neal RJ, Waller GD (1984) On the pollen harvest by the honey bee (Apis mellifera L.) near Tucson, Arizona (1976-1981). Desert Plants 6:81–109Google Scholar
  28. Page RE, Waddington KD, Hunt GJ, Kim Fondrk M (1995) Genetic determinants of honey bee foraging behaviour. Anim Behav 50:1617–1625. doi:10.1016/0003-3472(95)80015-8 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Percival M (1947) Pollen collection by Apis mellifera. New Phytol 46:142–165. doi:10.1111/j.1469-8137.1947.tb05076.x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Pernal SF, Currie RW (2001) The influence of pollen quality on foraging behavior in honeybees (Apis mellifera L.). Behav Ecol Sociobiol 51:53–68CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Pernal SF, Currie RW (2002) Discrimination and preferences for pollen-based cues by foraging honeybees, Apis mellifera L. Anim Behav 63:369–390. doi:06/anbe.2001.1904 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. R Development Core Team (2009) R: a language and environment for statistical computing. Austria, ViennaGoogle Scholar
  33. Roulston TH, Cane JH, Buchmann SL (2000) What governs protein content of pollen: pollinator preferences, pollen–pistil interactions, or phylogeny? Ecol Monogr 70:617–643Google Scholar
  34. Seeley TD (1986) Social foraging by honeybees: how colonies allocate foragers among patches of flowers. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 19:343–354CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Seeley TD (1995) The wisdom of the hive: the social physiology of honey bee colonies. Harvard University Press, Cambridge MassGoogle Scholar
  36. Seeley TD, Visscher PK (1988) Assessing the benefits of cooperation in honeybee foraging: search costs, forage quality, and competitive ability. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 22:229–237CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Sherman G, Visscher PK (2002) Honeybee colonies achieve fitness through dancing. Nature 419:920–922PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Synge AD (1947) Pollen collection by honeybees (Apis mellifera). J Anim Ecol 16:122–138. doi:10.2307/1492 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Visscher PK, Seeley TD (1982) Foraging strategy of honeybee colonies in a temperate deciduous forest. Ecology 63:1790–1801CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. von Frisch K (1967) The dance language and orientation of bees. Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Cambridge MassGoogle Scholar
  41. Wenner AM, Wells PH, Johnson DL (1969) Honey bee recruitment to food sources: olfaction or language? Science 164:84–86PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Zimmerman D (1991) Censored distance-based intensity estimation of spatial point processes. Biometrika 78:287. doi:10.1093/biomet/78.2.287 CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Ecology and Evolutionary BiologyUniversity of ArizonaTucsonUSA

Personalised recommendations