Effects of recent experience on foraging decisions by bumble bees
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The temporal and spatial scales employed by foraging bees in sampling their environment and making foraging decisions should depend both on the limits of bumble bee memory and on the spatial and temporal pattern of rewards in the habitat. We analyzed data from previous experiments to determine how recent foraging experience by bumble bees affects their flight distances to subsequent flowers. A single visit to a flower as sufficient to affect the flight distance to the next flower. However, longer sequences of two or three visits had an additional effect on the subsequent flight distance of individual foragers. This suggests that bumble bees can integrate information from at least three flowers for making a subsequent foraging decision. The existence of memory for floral characteristics at least at this scale may have significance for floral selection in natural environments.
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