Color-dependent learning in restrained Africanized honey bees

C. M. Jernigan, D. W. Roubik, W. T. Wcislo, A. J. Riveros

Research output: Contribution to journalResearch Articlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Associative color learning has been demonstrated to be very poor using restrained European honey bees unless the antennae are amputated. Consequently, our understanding of proximate mechanisms in visual information processing is handicapped. Here we test learning performance of Africanized honey bees under restrained conditions with visual and olfactory stimulation using the proboscis extension response (PER) protocol. Restrained individuals were trained to learn an association between a color stimulus and a sugar-water reward. We evaluated performance for 'absolute' learning (learned association between a stimulus and a reward) and 'discriminant' learning (discrimination between two stimuli). Restrained Africanized honey bees (AHBs) readily learned the association of color stimulus for both blue and green LED stimuli in absolute and discriminatory learning tasks within seven presentations, but not with violet as the rewarded color. Additionally, 24-h memory improved considerably during the discrimination task, compared with absolute association (15-55%). We found that antennal amputation was unnecessary and reduced performance in AHBs. Thus color learning can now be studied using the PER protocol with intact AHBs. This finding opens the way towards investigating visual and multimodal learning with application of neural techniques commonly used in restrained honey bees.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)337-343
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Experimental Biology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 2014
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Physiology
  • Aquatic Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Insect Science


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