Food wanting is mediated by transient activation of dopaminergic signaling in the honey bee brain

Science. 2022 Apr 29;376(6592):508-512. doi: 10.1126/science.abn9920. Epub 2022 Apr 28.


The biological bases of wanting have been characterized in mammals, but whether an equivalent wanting system exists in insects remains unknown. In this study, we focused on honey bees, which perform intensive foraging activities to satisfy colony needs, and sought to determine whether foragers leave the hive driven by specific expectations about reward and whether they recollect these expectations during their waggle dances. We monitored foraging and dance behavior and simultaneously quantified and interfered with biogenic amine signaling in the bee brain. We show that a dopamine-dependent wanting system is activated transiently in the bee brain by increased appetite and individual recollection of profitable food sources, both en route to the goal and during waggle dances. Our results show that insects share with mammals common neural mechanisms for encoding wanting of stimuli with positive hedonic value.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animal Communication*
  • Animals
  • Bees
  • Brain
  • Dopamine*
  • Food
  • Mammals
  • Signal Transduction


  • Dopamine

Associated data

  • figshare/10.6084/m9.figshare.17912468