Unravelling the mechanisms of trapline foraging in bees.
e22701 - ?
Commun Integr Biol
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Trapline foraging (repeated sequential visits to a series of feeding locations) is a taxonomically widespread but poorly understood behavior. Investigating these routing strategies in the field is particularly difficult, as it requires extensive tracking of animal movements to retrace their complete foraging history. In a recent study, we used harmonic radar and motion-triggered video cameras to track bumblebees foraging between artificial flowers in a large open field. We describe how all bees gradually developed a near optimal trapline to link all flowers and have identified a simple learning heuristic capable of replicating this optimisation behavior. Our results provide new perspectives to clarify the sequence of decisions made by pollinating insects during trapline foraging, and explore how spatial memory is organized in their small brains. "I have always regretted that I did not mark the bees by attaching bits of cotton wool or eiderdown to them with rubber, because this would have made it much easier to follow their paths." Charles Darwin(1.)