Learned Associations and Preferential Foraging in Honey Bees (Apis mellifera)
This study examined whether or not it was possible to train bees to avoid plants treated with a synthetic herbicide. During the training period, I taught a colony of honey bees to associate one odor (mint-lemongrass oil) with a high-reward food (2:1 sugar water solution), and another odor (grapefruit oil) with a low-reward food (water). For the test, 24 organically-certified chrysanthemums were obtained. Eight chrysanthemums were treated with the mint-lemongrass oil, eight more were treated with grapefruit oil, and the final eight were treated with grapefruit oil and a synthetic herbicide. The foraging patterns of the bees were recorded over three one-hour periods. The bees preferentially foraged at flowers treated with mint-lemongrass oil. They also preferred flowers without synthetic herbicides. The results of this study demonstrate that 1) bees can transfer a learned association into new contexts, and 2) bees may naturally prefer to forage on plants that have not been treated with herbicides. This training can be used to help bees more effectively avoid plants treated with potentially harmful chemicals.
Franklin and Marshall College Archives, Undergraduate Honors Thesis 2011
- F&M Theses Collection 
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