Journal of Comparative Physiology A

, Volume 157, Issue 3, pp 311–321 | Cite as

Natural phototaxis and its relationship to colour vision in honeybees

  • R. Menzel
  • U. Greggers
Article

Summary

  1. 1.

    Honeybees are positively phototactic when they leave a feeding place and start to fly back to the hive. The strength of this natural phototactic response in individually marked bees was measured without interfering with their foraging behaviour.

     
  2. 2.

    Absolute sensitivity of this phototactic response to a point light source is in the range of 8.3 · 107 quanta s−1 for 537 nm. This corresponds to about 5 absorbed quanta in 28 green receptors over the integration time of 60 ms.

     
  3. 3.

    We conclude that the properties of the monopolar cells or higher order visual interneurons rather than those of the photoreceptors control the intensity dependence of the response because the slopes (n) of the response intensity functions (R/logI) are steep (n: 1.0–2.65) and wavelength dependent. Blue light (439 nm) causes the steepest function.

     
  4. 4.

    The effect of residual light adaptation on theR/logI-function and the spectral sensitivity (S(λ)) is negligible under the experimental conditions chosen, since the time course of dark adaptation is fast (τ≦1 min).

     
  5. 5.

    The blue and green receptors contribute about equally to theS(λ) of this natural phototactic response, the UV receptors somewhat less (Fig. 5).

     
  6. 6.

    Colour mixing experiments, used to test colour vision in phototaxis, reveal no significant deviation from a simple linear summation of the quantal fluxes, irrespective of the spectral mixture used. We conclude, therefore, that under the experimental conditions colour vision is very unlikely to play a role in the phototactic behaviour of the honeybee.

     
  7. 7.

    All our results (steepR/logI-functions, fast dark adaptation,S(λ) and the absence of colour vision) support to notion that the natural phototactic response is controlled by neuronal pooling, most likely in the lamina M1 monopolar cells.

     

Keywords

Dark Adaptation Colour Vision Condition Colour Light Adaptation Quantal Flux 

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1985

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. Menzel
    • 1
  • U. Greggers
    • 1
  1. 1.Institut für Tierphysiologie - NeurobiologieFreie Universität BerlinBerlin 33

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