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Stop signaling by foragers not encountering danger at a food source


The stop signal is an acoustic negative feedback signal employed by honey bees that plays a key role in foraging regulation and group decision-making. In this study, foragers trained to visit a feeding station were either pinched on the hind femur by an observer in a simulation of a predator attack or left to forage uninhibited. Pinched bees were significantly less likely to perform the waggle dance, a recruitment signal, upon their return to their hive and also significantly more likely to perform the stop signal than bees that had not been pinched. Of note is the observation that approximately 70% of the stop signals recorded during the course of this experiment were performed by bees that had never visited the feeding station at all. This may have occurred because the bees interpreted the presence of a high-reward food source, the feeding station, as a honey-robbing situation. Alternatively, the stop signaling bees may have been unloader bees responsible for taking food from incoming foragers and storing it elsewhere in the hive. These unloader bees may have been overwhelmed by the influx of food from the feeding station and used the stop signal in an effort to modulate the colony’s foraging efforts.

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Correspondence to P. M. Kietzman.

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Kietzman, P.M., Visscher, P.K. & Lalor, J.K. Stop signaling by foragers not encountering danger at a food source. Insect. Soc. 64, 307–309 (2017).

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  • Behavior
  • Decision-making
  • Honey bee
  • Negative feedback
  • Recruitment