Effect of experience on foraging performance in the stingless bee Plebeia tobagoensis (Hymenoptera: Meliponini)
Frouke E Hofstede and Marinus J Sommeijer
Although foraging performance of bees is generally assumed to improve when experience is gained, not many studies have been done on the development of foraging performance over multiple days in social bees. In this study, we analysed the effect of experience on performance of naïve foragers of the stingless bee Plebeia tobagoensis over two successive days. Foraging performance, computed as the total foraging trip time and load size, improved significantly with increased experience, mostly after the first few foraging trips. The improvement in foraging trip time was mainly the result of a decrease in flower handling time and time necessary to find the food source. There was a decrease in foraging performance following night, and the highest foraging performance level of all studied aspects was reached the first foraging day. This foraging performance pattern might be adaptive for social bee species with relatively small colony sizes foraging in dynamic foraging environments.
social bees, foraging improvement patterns, foraging performance