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