The use of proximal and distal cues in nest entrance recognition by bumble bees
Jose Alexandre Felizola Diniz-Filho
The relative importance of proximal cues (immediately surrounding the nest entrance) and distal cues (further from the nest entrance) in guiding foraging bumble bees (Bombus impatiens) back to their nest was studied by manipulating the positions of both cues and observing the effects on homing and entering. Bees were trained to forage in a flight cage with a proximal cue and distal cue placed by the nest entrance. After the bees had left their hive, the positions of the proximal and distal cues were manipulated factorially. Experiment 1 showed a significant effect of both cues on homing and entering. Experiment 2, which used a less bright proximal cue than Experiment 1, showed an effect of the distal cue on homing but not on entering. The data support the hypothesis that landmarks are used successively, with distal cues first guiding the bees to the general vicinity of the nest and the more proximal cues then guiding them to the nest entrance. No evidence for the use of geometric relationships between cues was obtained.