Coupled information networks drive honeybee (Apis mellifera) collective foraging
AffiliationUniversity of Tennessee; University of London; Natural History Museum, London; University College London; University of Chester
MetadataShow full item record
AbstractCollective behaviour by eusocial insect colonies is typically achieved through multiple communication networks that produce complex behaviour at the group level but often appear to provide redundant or even competing information. A classic example occurs in honeybee (Apis mellifera) colonies, where both the dance communication system and robust scent‐based mechanisms contribute to the allocation of a colony's workforce by regulating the flow of experienced foragers among known food sources. Here we analysed social connectivity patterns during the reactivation of experienced foragers to familiar feeding sites to show that these social information pathways are not simply multiple means to achieve the same end but intersect to play complementary roles in guiding forager behaviour. Using artificial feeding stations, we mimicked a natural scenario in which two forager groups were simultaneously collecting from distinct patches containing different flowering species. We then observed the reactivation of these groups at their familiar feeding sites after interrupting their foraging. Social network analysis revealed that temporarily unemployed individuals interacted more often and for longer with foragers that advertised a familiar versus unfamiliar foraging site. Due to such resource‐based assortative mixing, network‐based diffusion analysis estimated that reactivation events primarily resulted from interactions among bees that had been trained to the same feeding station and less so from different‐feeder interactions. Both scent‐ and dance‐based interactions strongly contributed to reactivation decisions. However, each bout of dance‐following had an especially strong effect on a follower's likelihood of reactivation, particularly when dances indicated locations familiar to followers. Our findings illustrate how honeybee foragers can alter their social connectivity in ways that are likely to enhance collective outcomes by enabling foragers to rapidly access up‐to‐date information about familiar foraging sites. In addition, our results highlight how reliance on multiple communication mechanisms enables social insect workers to utilise flexible information‐use strategies that are robust to variation in the availability of social information.
CitationHasenjager, M., Hoppitt, W., Cunningham‐Eurich, I., Franks, V., & Leadbeater, E. (2024). Coupled information networks drive honeybee (Apis mellifera) collective foraging. Journal of Animal Ecology, 93(1), 71-82. https://doi.org/10.1111/1365-2656.14029
JournalJournal of Animal Ecology
Except where otherwise noted, this item's license is described as Licence for VoR version of this article: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/