Learning in the Africanized honey bee: Apis mellifera L

Physiol Behav. 1997 Sep;62(3):657-74. doi: 10.1016/s0031-9384(97)00194-7.


Several series of experiments are reported that investigate learning in the Africanized honey bee. In the first series, classical conditioning of proboscis extension was studied by confining bees to small metal tubes where they received pairings of an odor with a 3-s feeding of sucrose. After a number of odor-sucrose pairings, the bees began to extend their proboscis to the odor. Controls include Unpaired, Discrimination, and Pseudoconditioning Groups. This technique was used to look at conditioning to a light CS, and to the odors of beeswax, geraniol, citral, and hexanal. The results indicate that acquisition was best when sucrose was paired with the odor of beeswax. Conditioning to the remaining odors was roughly similar, but acquisition did not occur using a light. In a second series of experiments, odors were no longer followed by sucrose feedings and the conditioned response slowly disappeared. With the exception of geraniol as a CS, this extinction effect did not occur if the animals continued to be fed on an unpaired schedule. In a third series of experiments, conditioned inhibition was demonstrated when geraniol was used as conditioned stimuli, but no effect was found when the odors of hexanal, citral and wax were used. In a fourth series of experiments, unrestrained bees flew back and forth from the laboratory to the hive, where they were taught to distinguish targets based on color and odor. With this technique, color and odor discrimination in the Africanized bees was demonstrated. In addition, it was found that more intruder bees visited the experimental station when the stimuli used were olfactory rather than visual.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bees / physiology*
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology*
  • Learning / physiology*