Free Access
Volume 34, Number 1, January-February 2003
Page(s) 67 - 72
Apidologie 34 (2003) 67-72
DOI: 10.1051/apido:2002050

Variation in water and sucrose responsiveness during the foraging season affects proboscis extension learning in honey bees

Ricarda Scheiner, Marcus Barnert and Joachim Erber

Institut für Ökologie, Technische Universität Berlin, Franklinstr. 28/29, 10587 Berlin, Germany
(Received 21 March 2002; revised 28 June 2002; accepted 31 July 2002)

Honey bee foragers often show a variation in laboratory proboscis extension learning during the foraging season, making comparisons between experiments difficult. We analysed whether the seasonal variation in learning performance was related to a variation in sucrose responsiveness in pollen and non-pollen foragers. Pollen foragers were very responsive to water and sucrose throughout the season. Non-pollen foragers were overall less responsive and showed more variation. Sucrose responsiveness strongly correlated with tactile and olfactory learning performance in pollen and non-pollen foragers throughout the season. Learning performance was significantly better when sucrose responsiveness was high than when it was low. We suggest conditioning bees that have uniform sucrose responsiveness throughout the season to reduce experimental variance.

Key words: Apis mellifera / proboscis extension response / learning / responsiveness to sucrose / seasonal variation

Correspondence and reprints: Ricarda Scheiner

© INRA, EDP Sciences, DIB, AGIB 2003