Collective decision making in the red dwarf honeybee Apis florea: do the bees simply follow the flowers?
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Most studies on collective decision making in honeybees have been performed on the cavity-nesting Western honeybee, Apis mellifera. In more recent years, the open-nesting red dwarf honeybee Apis florea has been developed as a model organism of collective decision making in the context of nest-site selection. These studies have shown that the specifics of the species’ nest-site requirements affect collective decision making. In particular, when potential nesting sites are abundant, as is the case in A. florea, the process of collective decision making can be simplified. Here, we ask if A. florea simply follows the availability of floral resources in their environment when deciding on an area to move into. We determined the locations danced for by three colonies the day before, of and after reproductive swarming. Our results suggest that colonies of A. florea indeed track the availability of forage in their environment and that swarms move in the general direction of forage rather than towards a specific nest site.
KeywordsApis Collective decision making Honeybees Nest-site selection
We thank the Australian-Asia Endeavour award (to JCM) and the Australian Research Council (MB) for funding. We further thank Prof. Siriwat Wongsiri and Dr. Ratna Thapa for providing office space at Mae Fah Luang University, and Mr. Lumphoon Supanyo for his assistance in locating Apis florea colonies. Data have been uploaded onto Dryad: http://dx.doi.org/10.5061/dryad.3j2n8.
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