Free access
Volume 39, Number 2, March-April 2008
Page(s) 215 - 224
Published online 22 February 2008
Apidologie 39 (2008) 215-224
DOI: 10.1051/apido:2007056

Assessment of pattern preferences by flower-naïve bumblebees

François R. Séguin1 and Catherine M.S. Plowright2

1  Département de biologie, Université d'Ottawa, Ottawa, Ont., Canada K1N 6N5
2  École de psychologie, Université d'Ottawa, Ottawa, Ont., Canada K1N 6N5

(Received 3 April 2007 - Revised 2 October 2007 - Accepted 8 October 2007 - Published online 22 February 2008)

Abstract - Two methods for the assessment of preferences by flower-naïve bumble bees (Bombus impatiens) were compared. Bees with and without prior experience on rewarding patterns were given twenty choices of unrewarding patterns (radial vs. concentric) in a radial arm maze. Either way, a preference for radial patterns was obtained. Prior training on grids of circles, squares or diamonds amplified the preference, whereas training on a ring of circles did not. Prior rewarded experience does not merely draw the bees' attention to the patterns in the maze, or serve as a motivator, but also likely leads to a similarity judgment between training and testing. Given that it was possible to test for the choices of truly flower-naïve bumblebees, training is at best unnecessary and is at worst a source of bias.

Key words: pattern recognition / bumblebee / Bombus / innate / learning

© INRA, DIB-AGIB, EDP Sciences 2008