ABSTRACT

Honey bees estimate distances to food sources using image motion experienced on the flight path and they use this measure to tune the waggle phase duration in their dance communication. Most studies on the dance-related odometer are based on experiments with Apis mellifera foragers trained in small tunnels with black and white patterns, which allows the creation of quantifiable changes in optic flow. In this study, we determined the waggle phase duration-distance curves of two Asian honey bee species, Apisflorea and Apiscerana, in two different natural environments with clear differences in the vegetation conditions and hence visual contrast. We found that the dense vegetation condition (with higher contrast) elicited a more rapid increase in the waggle phase duration with distance than the sparse vegetation condition in A. florea but not in A. cerana. Our findings suggest that contrast sensitivity of the waggle dance odometer might vary among honey bee species.

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