Free Access
Volume 24, Number 3, 1993
Neurobiology of the honeybee
Page(s) 157 - 168
Apidologie 24 (1993) 157-168
DOI: 10.1051/apido:19930301

Associative learning in honey bees

R. Menzel

Freie Universität Berlin, Fachbereich Biologie, Institut für Neurobiologie, Königin-Luise-Straße 28-30, 1000 Berlin 33, Germany

Abstract - The learning behavior of honey bees has been reviewed. In the context of foraging be havior, bees perform 2 forms of learning, latent (or observatory) and associative learning. Latent learning plays an important role in spatial orientation and learning during dance communication, but the mechanisms of this kind of learning are little understood. In associative learning, stimuli experienced immediately before the reward (usually sucrose solution) are memorized for the guidance of future behavior. Well-established paradigms have been used to characterize operant and classical conditioning. The classical conditioning of olfactory stimuli is a very effective form of learning in bees and has helped to describe the behavioral and physiological basis of memory formation. It is concluded that memory needs time to be established and is processed in sequential phases. The neuronal compartments of the brain involved in the chemosensory pathway appear to participate differently in the sequential memory phases. A model is developed which assigns the strong non-associative components in olfactory conditioning to the antennal lobes, and the associative components to the mushroom bodies and the lateral output region of the protocerebrum. It is speculated that the amnesia-sensitive memory resides in the mushroom bodies and the amnesia-resistant memory in certain structures (eg the lateral protocerebrum) perhaps together with the mushroom bodies.

Key words: learning / olfactory conditioning / memory / protocerebrum / mushroom bodies / Apis mellifera