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Does pollen function as a reward for honeybees in associative learning?
The ability to learn an association between floral characteristics such as its odor, color and shape and a reward such as nectar is key to honeybee foraging success. Here, we tested if also pollen could function as a reward for associative learning in honeybees. We found that large proportions of bees with and without field experience showed an unconditioned response, the extension of the proboscis, after touching their antennae with bee-collected pollen. Furthermore, bees readily learn to associate an odor with pollen in a classical conditioning assay. We suggest that pollen might play an important role as a reward for free-flying bees.
Apis mellifera, unconditioned stimulus, associative learning, pollen
Web of science
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