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Eavesdroppers and robbers and spies, oh my! Decision-making by foraging bees

bees decision-making behavioural ecology

Bees show striking abilities to decide where, what, and how to find food using both personal and social information. Diverse rules underlie these decisions. This talk will explore three foraging decisions by social bees. (1) How do stingless bees respond to heterospecific recruitment pheromone trails? (2) How do bumble bees use social information about nectar availability in complex ecologically communities? (3) How do bumble bees decide whether to “rob” a flower by feeding through holes at the base of flowers or visit “legitimately” at the flower’s opening? These three lines of investigation show that bee floral visitation patterns depend on surprisingly complex responses to information encoded in signals, insect and plant traits, and local ecological conditions. By integrating behavioural, community and chemical ecology, I determine mechanisms through which diverse ecological community members alter bee foraging.

Dr Elinor Lichtenberg
University of North Texas, USA