March 2, 2021

Bumblebees memorize the location of the best flowers


Bumblebees repeatedly look back to remember the flowers they choose.

Bumblebees repeatedly look back to remember the flowers they choose.
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The big bumblebees they take their time to learn the location of the best flowers, as shown by new research in the journal in the journal Current Biology.

Meanwhile, the smallest bumblebees, which have a shorter flight range and lower load capacity, they don’t pay special attention to the flowers with the richest nectar.

Scientists from the Exeter UniversityIn the UK, they examined the “learning flights” that most bees take after leaving flowers. Bees are known to perform such flights, and the study shows that bumblebees do the same, looking back repeatedly to memorize the location of a flower.

“It may not be widely known that pollinating insects learn and develop individual flower preferences, but in fact bumblebees are selective -Explain Natalie Hempel de Ibarra, Associate Professor at Exeter’s Center for Research in Animal Behavior. By leaving a flower, they can actively decide how much effort to put into remembering its location. ”

“The surprising finding of our study is that the size of a bee determines this decision-making and learning behavior,” he highlights.

In the study, captive bees visited artificial flowers that contained a solution of sucrose (sugar) in varying concentrations. The older the bee, the more its learning behavior varies depending on the richness of the sucrose solution.

The smaller bees spent the same amount of effort learning the location of the artificial flowers, regardless of whether the sucrose concentration was high or low.

“The differences we found reflect the different roles of bees in their colonies,” adds Professor Hempel de Ibarra. Large bumblebees can carry larger loads and explore further from the nest than smaller ones. Little ones with a smaller flight range and carrying capacity can’t afford to be so selective, so they accept a wider range of flowers.

As he points out, “these little bees tend to get more involved in tasks within the nest, only going out to look for food if the food supplies in the colony are running low.”

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