Date of Thesis

12-17-2015

Thesis Type

Masters Thesis (Bucknell Access Only)

Degree Type

Master of Science

First Advisor

Elizabeth A. Capaldi

Abstract

The foraging system of honeybees (Apis mellifera) has been extensively studied. Foraging behavior is a complex task, involving memory, learning, navigation, and communication, and its study has led to key findings in these topics. Typically, foraging has been studied by examining the outward journey from the hive to a food source and/or the homing flight from a food source to the hive. From the hive, honeybees can use a variety of cues to remember and selectively visit previously visited food sources. However, under certain natural conditions, like encountering a depleted food source, foraging may require bees to make navigational decisions at a location away from the hive. This more complex, multi-hub, interpatch system of navigation has not been studied in as much detail the navigation between the hive and a single food source. One reason is the difficulty associated with observing and measuring interpatch foraging decisions. Recently, however, efficient novel methods were developed to record and analyze interpatch foraging. These methods have been used to show that honeybees can make navigational foraging decisions at locations other than the hive, dubbed secondary decision hubs, and there honeybees can use terrestrial or celestial cues to orient toward previously visited sites. Until now, other stimuli, such as odor cues, associated with these decisions have not been fully explored. In the present study bees were trained to visit a central feeder, and from there two secondary feeders, each associated with a distinct scent. When food was removed from the central feeder we scored bees' departure bearings from the central feeder, as well as their secondary feeder visitations. Then, to test if bees used scent cues to alter their decisions from the central feeder, we removed food the central feeder and presented to the bees a scent associated with one of the two secondary feeders. In at least one experiment, bees seemingly altered their interpatch foraging decisions in response to the scent cues.

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