Insectes Sociaux

, Volume 64, Issue 4, pp 557–566 | Cite as

Collective decision making in the red dwarf honeybee Apis florea: do the bees simply follow the flowers?

  • J. C. Makinson
  • T. M. Schaerf
  • N. Wagner
  • B. P. Oldroyd
  • M. BeekmanEmail author
Research Article


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.


Apis 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:

Supplementary material

40_2017_577_MOESM1_ESM.docx (3.6 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 3642 kb)


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Copyright information

© International Union for the Study of Social Insects (IUSSI) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Behaviour and Genetics of Social Insects Lab, School of Life and Environmental SciencesUniversity of SydneySydneyAustralia
  2. 2.Department of Biological and Experimental Psychology, School of Biological and Chemical SciencesQueen Mary University of LondonLondonUK
  3. 3.School of Science and TechnologyUniversity of New EnglandArmidaleAustralia

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