Ability of honeybee, Apis mellifera, to detect and discriminate odors of varieties of canola (Brassica rapa and brassica napus) and snapdragon flowers (Antirrhinum majus)

Geraldine A. Wright, Bethany D. Skinner, Brian Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

53 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Honeybees (Apis mellifera) use odors to identify and discriminate among flowers during foraging. This series of experiments examined the ability of bees to detect and discriminate among the floral odors of different varieties of two species of canola (Brassica rapa and Brassica napus) and also among three varieties of snapdragons (Antirhinnum majus). Individual worker honeybees were trained using a proboscis extension assay. The ability of bees to distinguish a floral odor from an air stimulus during training increased as the number of flowers used during training increased. Bees conditioned to the odor of one variety of flower were asked to discriminate it from the odors of other flowers in two different training assays. Bees were unable to discriminate among flowers at the level of variety in a randomized presentation of a reinforced floral odor and an unreinforced floral odor. In the second type of assay, bees were trained with one floral variety for 40 trials without reinforcement and then tested with the same variety or with other varieties and species. If a bee had been trained with a variety of canola, it was unable to differentiate the odor of one canola flower from the odor of other canola flowers, but it could differentiate canola from the odor of a snapdragon flower. Bees trained with the odor of snapdragon flowers readily differentiated the odor of one variety of a snapdragon from the odor of other varieties of snapdragons and also canola flowers. Our study suggests that both intensity and odor quality affect the ability of honeybees to differentiate among floral perfumes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)721-740
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Chemical Ecology
Volume28
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

Antirrhinum
Antirrhinum majus
Brassica napus
Brassica rapa
canola
honeybee
Bees
Odors
Apis mellifera
odor
honey bees
flower
odors
flowers
bee
Apoidea
Assays
assay
Odorants
assays

Keywords

  • Antirhinnum majus
  • Apis mellifera
  • Brassica napus
  • Brassica rapa
  • Floral odors
  • Honeybee
  • Olfactory learning
  • Proboscis extension assay

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Biochemistry

Cite this

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title = "Ability of honeybee, Apis mellifera, to detect and discriminate odors of varieties of canola (Brassica rapa and brassica napus) and snapdragon flowers (Antirrhinum majus)",
abstract = "Honeybees (Apis mellifera) use odors to identify and discriminate among flowers during foraging. This series of experiments examined the ability of bees to detect and discriminate among the floral odors of different varieties of two species of canola (Brassica rapa and Brassica napus) and also among three varieties of snapdragons (Antirhinnum majus). Individual worker honeybees were trained using a proboscis extension assay. The ability of bees to distinguish a floral odor from an air stimulus during training increased as the number of flowers used during training increased. Bees conditioned to the odor of one variety of flower were asked to discriminate it from the odors of other flowers in two different training assays. Bees were unable to discriminate among flowers at the level of variety in a randomized presentation of a reinforced floral odor and an unreinforced floral odor. In the second type of assay, bees were trained with one floral variety for 40 trials without reinforcement and then tested with the same variety or with other varieties and species. If a bee had been trained with a variety of canola, it was unable to differentiate the odor of one canola flower from the odor of other canola flowers, but it could differentiate canola from the odor of a snapdragon flower. Bees trained with the odor of snapdragon flowers readily differentiated the odor of one variety of a snapdragon from the odor of other varieties of snapdragons and also canola flowers. Our study suggests that both intensity and odor quality affect the ability of honeybees to differentiate among floral perfumes.",
keywords = "Antirhinnum majus, Apis mellifera, Brassica napus, Brassica rapa, Floral odors, Honeybee, Olfactory learning, Proboscis extension assay",
author = "Wright, {Geraldine A.} and Skinner, {Bethany D.} and Brian Smith",
year = "2002",
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AU - Wright, Geraldine A.

AU - Skinner, Bethany D.

AU - Smith, Brian

PY - 2002

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N2 - Honeybees (Apis mellifera) use odors to identify and discriminate among flowers during foraging. This series of experiments examined the ability of bees to detect and discriminate among the floral odors of different varieties of two species of canola (Brassica rapa and Brassica napus) and also among three varieties of snapdragons (Antirhinnum majus). Individual worker honeybees were trained using a proboscis extension assay. The ability of bees to distinguish a floral odor from an air stimulus during training increased as the number of flowers used during training increased. Bees conditioned to the odor of one variety of flower were asked to discriminate it from the odors of other flowers in two different training assays. Bees were unable to discriminate among flowers at the level of variety in a randomized presentation of a reinforced floral odor and an unreinforced floral odor. In the second type of assay, bees were trained with one floral variety for 40 trials without reinforcement and then tested with the same variety or with other varieties and species. If a bee had been trained with a variety of canola, it was unable to differentiate the odor of one canola flower from the odor of other canola flowers, but it could differentiate canola from the odor of a snapdragon flower. Bees trained with the odor of snapdragon flowers readily differentiated the odor of one variety of a snapdragon from the odor of other varieties of snapdragons and also canola flowers. Our study suggests that both intensity and odor quality affect the ability of honeybees to differentiate among floral perfumes.

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