The use of heterospecific scent marks by the sweat bee Halictus aerarius

Yokoi, Tomoyuko, Goulson, Dave and Fujisaki, Kenji (2007) The use of heterospecific scent marks by the sweat bee Halictus aerarius. Naturwissenschaften, 94 (12). pp. 1021-1024. ISSN 0028-1042

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To forage effectively amongst flowers, some bee species utilize olfactory cues left by previous visitors in addition to direct assessment of visual cues to identify rewarding flowers. This ability can be more advantageous if the bees can recognize and use scent marks left by heterospecifics, not just marks left by members of their own species. We conducted field experiments to investigate whether the sweat bee Halictus aerarius avoids visiting flowers of trailing water willow Justicia procumbens emptied by other bee species. We found that H. aerarius rejected the flowers visited by both heterospecifics and conspecifics. They also rejected visited flowers artificially replenished with nectar. Our results demonstrate that social bees outside the Apidae can detect marks left on flowers by heterospecifics but that (on this plant species) they are unable to discriminate against flowers by directly detecting nectar volume. H. aerarius exhibited different rejection rates according to the identity of the previous bee species. We suggest that the frequency of rejection responses may depend on the amount of chemical substances left by the previous bee. In general, the use of scent marks left by previous visitors is almost certainly advantageous, enabling foragers to avoid flowers with depleted nectar levels and thereby improving their foraging efficiency. © 2007 Springer-Verlag.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Life Sciences > Evolution, Behaviour and Environment
Depositing User: Catrina Hey
Date Deposited: 25 Nov 2014 14:25
Last Modified: 29 Jul 2019 08:53
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