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Appears in Collections:Biological and Environmental Sciences Journal Articles
Peer Review Status: Refereed
Title: Discrimination of unrewarding flowers by bees; Direct detection of rewards and use of repellent scent marks
Author(s): Goulson, Dave
Chapman, Jason W
Hughes, William O H
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Keywords: foraging
handling time
Issue Date: Sep-2001
Date Deposited: 2-Aug-2012
Citation: Goulson D, Chapman JW & Hughes WOH (2001) Discrimination of unrewarding flowers by bees; Direct detection of rewards and use of repellent scent marks. Journal of Insect Behavior, 14 (5), pp. 669-678.
Abstract: Bumblebees and honeybees deposit short-lived scent marks on flowers that they visit when foraging. Conspecifics use these marks to distinguish those flowers that have recently been emptied and, so, avoid them. The aim of this study was to assess how widespread this behavior is. Evidence for direct detection of reward levels was found in two bee species: Agapostemon nasutus was able to detect directly pollen availability in flowers with exposed anthers, while Apis mellifera appeared to be able to detect nectar levels of tubular flowers. A third species, Trigona fulviventris, avoided flowers that had recently been visited by conspecifies, regardless of reward levels, probably by using scent marks. Three further bee/flower systems were examined in which there was no detectable discrimination among flowers. We argue that bees probably rely on direct detection of rewards where this is allowed by the structure of the flower and on scent marks when feeding on flowers where the rewards are hidden. However, discrimination does not always occur. We suggest that discrimination may not always make economic sense; when visiting flowers with a low handling time, or flowers that are scarce, it may be more efficient to visit every flower that is encountered.
DOI Link: 10.1023/A:1012231419067
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