Free access
Volume 36, Number 1, January-March 2005
Page(s) 43 - 47
Published online 31 January 2005
Apidologie 36 (2005) 43-47
DOI: 10.1051/apido:2004069

Trophallaxis within the dancing context: a behavioral and thermographic analysis in honeybees (Apis mellifera)

Walter M. Farinaa, b and Alejandro J. Wainselboima

a  Grupo de Estudios de Insectos Sociales, IFIBYNE-CONICET, Departamento de Fisiología, Biología Molecular y Celular, Facultad de Ciencias Exactas y Naturales, Universidad de Buenos Aires, Pabellón II, Ciudad Universitaria (C1428EHA), Buenos Aires, Argentina
b  Theodor-Boveri-Institut, Lehrstuhl für Verhaltensphysiologie und Soziobiologie der Universität Würzburg, Am Hubland, 97074, Würzburg, Germany

(Received 30 March 2004; Revised 10 June 2004; Accepted 2 August 2004; Published online: 31 January 2005)

Abstract - Honeybee workers that follow a dancing bee within the hive may contact its mouthparts to receive a food sample. It is currently unknown which proportion of begging bees actually receive food samples via trophallaxis from a dancer. We combined behavioral and thermographic recordings to analyze trophallactic behavior considering the informational context in which these interactions occurred. Dance followers engaged in shorter oral contacts and achieved a lower proportion of effective receptions (26%) than non-followers (58%). These results show that oral contacts often occur between dancers and followers, but their brief duration suggests that followers may just probe the incoming nectar. However, short contacts might allow unemployed nectar foragers either to taste or smell (or both) the solution exposed between the dancer's mandibles, which may contribute to the acquisition of information involved in the decision to visit that food source.

Key words: Apis mellifera / honeybee / trophallaxis / dance / thermography

Corresponding author: Walter M. Farina

© INRA, EDP Sciences, DIB, AGIB 2005