Africanized honeybees are slower learners than their European counterparts

Margaret J. Couvillon, Gloria Degrandi-Hoffman, Wulfila Gronenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations

Abstract

Does cognitive ability always correlate with a positive fitness consequence? Previous research in both vertebrates and invertebrates provides mixed results. Here, we compare the learning and memory abilities of Africanized honeybees (Apis mellifera scutellata hybrid) and European honeybees (Apis mellifera ligustica). The range of the Africanized honeybee continues to expand, superseding the European honeybee, which led us to hypothesize that they might possess greater cognitive capabilities as revealed by a classical conditioning assay. Surprisingly, we found that fewer Africanized honeybees learn to associate an odor with a reward. Additionally, fewer Africanized honeybees remembered the association a day later. While Africanized honeybees are replacing European honeybees, our results show that they do so despite displaying a relatively poorer performance on an associative learning paradigm.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)153-160
Number of pages8
JournalNaturwissenschaften
Volume97
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 2010

Keywords

  • Africanized honeybees
  • Apis mellifera
  • Associative learning
  • Proboscis extension response

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics

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