Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 68, Issue 1, pp 13–20 | Cite as

Preferences and tradeoffs in nectar temperature and nectar concentration in the Asian hive bee Apis cerana

  • Ken Tan
  • Tanya Latty
  • Zongwenu Hu
  • Zhengwei Wang
  • Shuang Yang
  • Weiweng Chen
  • Benjamin P. Oldroyd
Original Paper


Honey bee foragers need to asses and make trade-offs between a number of potentially conflicting floral attributes. Here, we investigate multi-attribute decision making in the eastern honey bee, Apis cerana, when foraging on food sources that varied in warmth and sucrose concentration. We show that foragers prefer warm (30 °C) sucrose solution over cool (10 °C) sucrose solution and concentrated (30 % w/w) sucrose solution over dilute (15 % w/w) sucrose solution. When we offered the preferred sucrose concentration (30 % w/w) at the less-preferred temperature (10 °C), and the less-preferred sucrose concentration (15 % w/w) at the preferred temperature (30 °C), foragers prioritized warmth by choosing the warmer, but lower concentration solution. When the temperature difference was less extreme, bees preferred more concentrated cooler syrup (30 % ww at 15 °C over 15 % 30 °C). However, the addition of a decoy item to the choice set had a significant effect on the bees' preferences. Our results highlight the critical importance of considering context effects when measuring the foraging preferences of animals.


Apis cerana Multi-attribute Decision making 



This work was supported by the Key Laboratory of Tropical Forest Ecology, Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Science and China National Research Fund (31260585) to KT. TL is funded by the Australian Research Council (DP110102998), and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.

Conflicts of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ken Tan
    • 1
  • Tanya Latty
    • 2
  • Zongwenu Hu
    • 3
  • Zhengwei Wang
    • 3
  • Shuang Yang
    • 3
  • Weiweng Chen
    • 3
  • Benjamin P. Oldroyd
    • 2
  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Tropical Forest Ecology, Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical GardenChinese Academy of SciencesXishuangbannaChina
  2. 2.Behaviour and Genetics of Social Insects Laboratory, School of Biological Sciences A12University of SydneyNSWAustralia
  3. 3.Eastern Bee Research InstituteYunnan Agricultural UniversityKunmingChina

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