Foraging ecology of the Asian hive bee, Apis cerana indica, within artificial flower patches
Harrington Wells; Ram R S Rathore
The effects of sugar type (sucrose, glucose, fructose, and mixed monosaccharide), reward relative energy content, and floral colour (blue VS. white, or blue VS. yellow) on foraging behaviour of Asian hive bees (Apis cerana indica) visiting artificial flower patches were studied. In colour dimorphic flower patches, bees visited both flower colours extensively when caloric values of rewards were equivalent; some individuals randomly foraged with respect to colour while many bees showed various degrees of preference. When 'nectar' caloric rewards differed between flower morphs, bees switched to the flower colour with the greater reward irrespective of flower patch colour dimorphism. Energy maximization (calories/time) was a robust predictor of A. cerana behaviour with respect to the sugar types. The foraging behaviour of A. cerana differed from that reported for A. mellifera. Although both species foraged in accordance with predictions of an energy maximization model on blue-white dimorphic flower patches, individual constancy was not observed for A. cerana on blue-yellow dimorphic flower patches as reported for A. mellifera. Models based upon Apis social structure, caste system, morphology, and domestication were unable to account for this interspecific difference. However, species-related forager size and colony size differences were correlated with the observed results. These correlations suggest that work partitioning which minimizes forager interference may be more important to A. mellifera than to A. cerana, and that the species may base foraging actions on different initial perceptions of 'same' and 'different' when viewing a floral dimorphism.