Do honeybees (Apis mellifera) differentiate between different pollen types?

A new interesting article has been published in PLoS One. 2018 Nov 7;13(11):e0205821. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0205821. eCollection 2018. and titled:

Do honeybees (Apis mellifera) differentiate between different pollen types?

Authors of this article are:

Ruedenauer FA, Wöhrle C, Spaethe J, Leonhardt SD.

A summary of the article is shown below:

Bees receive nectar and pollen as reward for pollinating plants. Pollen of different plant species varies widely in nutritional composition. In order to select pollen of appropriate nutritional quality, bees would benefit if they could distinguish different pollen types. Whether they rely on visual, olfactory and/or chemotactile cues to distinguish between different pollen types, has however been little studied. In this study, we examined whether and how Apis mellifera workers differentiate between almond and apple pollen. We used differential proboscis extension response conditioning with olfactory and chemotactile stimulation, in light and darkness, and in summer and winter bees. We found that honeybees were only able to differentiate between different pollen types, when they could use both chemotactile and olfactory cues. Visual cues further improved learning performance. Summer bees learned faster than winter bees. Our results thus highlight the importance of multisensory information for pollen discrimination.

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