International Union for the Study of Social Insects (IUSSI2018), August 5-10, 2018 in Guarujá, Brazil.

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Lifetime variation in the foraging performance of individual honey bees

Author(s):
Simon Klein, Simon Klein , Xu Jiang He , Clint Perry , Eirik Søvik , Jean-Marc Devaud , Lihoreau Mathieu , Andrew Barron
Institution(s):
Research Center on Animal Cognition, Center for Integrative Biology, National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS), University of Toulouse (UPS), France // Department of Biological Sciences, Macquarie University, NSW, Australia; Research Center on Animal Cognition, Center for Integrative Biology, National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS), University of Toulouse (UPS), France // Department of Biological Sciences, Macquarie University, NSW, Australia ; Honeybee Research Institute, Jiangxi Agricultural University, Nanchang, Jiangxi, P.R. of China, 330045 ; Department of Biological and Experimental Psychology, School of Biological and Chemical Sciences, Queen Mary University of London, London E1 4NS, UK ; Volda University College, Department of Science and Mathematics, Volda 6100, Norway ; Research Center on Animal Cognition, Center for Integrative Biology, National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS), University of Toulouse (UPS), France ; Research Center on Animal Cognition, Center for Integrative Biology, National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS), University of Toulouse (UPS), France ; Department of Biological Sciences, Macquarie University, NSW, Australia
For honey bees, macronutrients are supplied from pollen (proteins and fat) and nectar (sugars). The foraging force must supply its colony with a precise balance of both resources to support colony growth. Inter-individual variability within the foraging force has long been observed, in term of nectar or pollen collection and differences in the foraging activity level. But so far, the nature, the cause and the consequence of such inter-individual variability are not well understood. To explore this here we automatically recorded the weight of bees on departing the hive, their trip durations and videoed returning bees to visually score pollen collection. Only a subset of foragers collected pollen, and no bee foraged exclusively for pollen across their lifetime. A subset (19% of the foragers) of very active bees performed 50% of the colony’s foraging trips. Those individuals were more efficient at collecting pollen and nectar, and their efficiency was linked with their foraging experience. Our data bring new information on how a social insect collectively achieves nutritional balance.
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