Standard methods for behavioural studies of Apis mellifera

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Journal of Apicultural Research Vol. 52(4)
DOI 10.3896/IBRA.
Date September 2013
Article Title

Standard methods for behavioural studies of Apis mellifera


Ricarda Scheiner, Charles I Abramson, Robert Brodschneider, Karl Crailsheim, Walter M Farina, Stefan Fuchs, Bernd Grünewald, Sybille Hahshold, Marlene Karrer, Gudrun Koeniger, Niko Koeniger, Randolf Menzel, Samir Mujagic, Gerald Radspieler, Thomas Schmickl, Christof Schneider, Adam J Siegel, Martina Szopek and Ronald Thenius


In this BEEBOOK paper we present a set of established methods for quantifying honey bee behaviour. We start with general methods for preparing bees for behavioural assays. Then we introduce assays for quantifying sensory responsiveness to gustatory, visual and olfactory stimuli. Presentation of more complex behaviours like appetitive and aversive learning under controlled laboratory conditions and learning paradigms under free-flying conditions will allow the reader to investigate a large range of cognitive skills in honey bees. Honey bees are very sensitive to changing temperatures. We therefore present experiments which aim at analysing honey bee locomotion in temperature gradients. The complex flight behaviour of honey bees can be investigated under controlled conditions in the laboratory or with sophisticated technologies like harmonic radar or RFID in the field. These methods will be explained in detail in different sections. Honey bees are model organisms in behavioural biology for their complex yet plastic division of labour. To observe the daily behaviour of individual bees in a colony, classical observation hives are very useful. The setting up and use of typical observation hives will be the focus of another section. The honey bee dance language has important characteristics of a real language and has been the focus of numerous studies. We here discuss the background of the honey bee dance language and describe how it can be studied. Finally, the mating of a honey bee queen with drones is essential to survival of the entire colony. We here give detailed and structured information how the mating behaviour of drones and queens can be observed and experimentally manipulated.
The ultimate goal of this chapter is to provide the reader with a comprehensive set of experimental protocols for detailed studies on all aspects of honey bee behaviour including investigation of pesticide and insecticide effects.


COLOSS, BEEBOOK, honey bee, behaviour, gustatory responsiveness, olfactory responsiveness, phototaxis, non-associative learning, associative learning, appetitive learning, aversive learning, locomotion, temperature sensing, honey bee flight, observation hive, honey bee dance, honey bee navigation, harmonic radar, BeeScan, RFID, honey bee mating, free-flying honey bees

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