ABSTRACT

Honeybees (Apis mellifera) use cues and signals to recruit nestmates to profitable food sources. Here, we investigated whether the type of resource advertised within the colony (i.e. pollen or nectar) correlates with the choices of recruits at the feeding site. We observed that pollen recruits preferred to collect pollen once arrived for the first time at the feeding site, while nectar recruits preferred to forage sucrose solutions. Bees recruited by foragers carrying both resources showed intermediate preferences. Studying the plasticity of this response, we found that nectar recruits have a low probability of switching to pollen collection, yet pollen recruits were likely to switch to sucrose solution of increasing concentrations. Our results show that cues associated with the advertised resource type correlate with the foraging tendency of recruits for pollen and sucrose solution, a feature that would guarantee an efficient resource collection.

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