Scientists train honey bees to stick out their tongues

Dec 12, 2012
This image shows a honey bee feeding while conditioning. Credit: Journal of Visualized Experiments

Honey bees are a highly organized, social species, as demonstrated by their complex colonies and the geometric structure of their hives. For hive building, the honey bee strongly relies on its tactile sense, and a new video-article in JoVE (Journal of Visualized Experiments) illustrates a novel tactile conditioning experiment using honey bees. The technique, presented by the lab of Dr. Volker Dürr of Bielefeld University, trains honey bees to stick out their tongues when their antennae touch an object. This procedure allows researchers to analyze how changes in antennal movement correspond to tactile pattern recognition and learning.

"We work with honey bees because they are an important model system for behavioral biology and neurobiology. They can be trained," Dr. Dürr says. "If you can train an insect to respond to a certain stimulus, then you can ask the bees questions in the form of 'Is A like B? If so, stick your tongue out.'"

To train the honey bees, researchers let the antennae sample a textured surface, and then deliver . As the training proceeds, the will start to extend its tongue when it touches the associated surface. The researchers record the movement of the bee's on video to understand how the bee uses active motion for tactile recognition. "It is clear that if a bee touches something with an antenna, a finely textured structure, the bee has to move it to get the information it wants. We don't fully understand the relevance of this movement," Dr. Dürr explains.

By recording the antennal movements, Dr. Dürr hopes for himself and his students to gain clearer insight into honey bee behavior. Training new students can often be problematic for this technique. "We actually use this method in teaching often. The conditioning of the bees and recording of their antenna is better expressed in video." This article helps grow JoVE's articles on honey bees. Associate editor Allison Diamond tells us, "JoVE shows how research on an atypical subject, the honey bee, can be extremely beneficial to scientists, as the bees are a good species to train. Hopefully videos such as this will push other scientists to adopt similar techniques in their own research."

Explore further: Transparent larvae hide opaque eyes behind reflections

More information: Volker et. al. www.jove.com/video/50179/tacti… -sampling-strategies

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Honey bee chemoreceptors found for smell and taste

Oct 25, 2006

Honey bees have a much better sense of smell than fruit flies or mosquitoes, but a much worse sense of taste, according to researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Bee species outnumber mammals and birds combined

Jun 11, 2008

Scientists have discovered that there are more bee species than previously thought. In the first global accounting of bee species in over a hundred years, John S. Ascher, a research scientist in the Division of Invertebrate ...

Recommended for you

Transparent larvae hide opaque eyes behind reflections

4 hours ago

Becoming invisible is probably the ultimate form of camouflage: you don't just blend in, the background shows through you. And this strategy is not as uncommon as you might think. Kathryn Feller, from the University of Maryland ...

Peacock's train is not such a drag

6 hours ago

The magnificent plumage of the peacock may not be quite the sacrifice to love that it appears to be, University of Leeds researchers have discovered.

Spy on penguin families for science

13 hours ago

Penguin Watch, which launches on 17 September 2014, is a project led by Oxford University scientists that gives citizen scientists access to around 200,000 images of penguins taken by remote cameras monitoring ...

User comments : 4

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

foolspoo
2.3 / 5 (3) Dec 12, 2012
remarkable!
Torbjorn_Larsson_OM
5 / 5 (2) Dec 12, 2012
I fell like I should bee seconding that!
dav_daddy
2 / 5 (4) Dec 13, 2012
Pavlov's bees just doesn't have the same ring to it somehow?
VendicarD
5 / 5 (1) Dec 13, 2012
This method is too slow.

They will never pass the SAT.