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Foraging Strategy of Honeybee Colonies in a Temperate Deciduous Forest

P. Kirk Visscher and Thomas D. Seeley
Ecology
Vol. 63, No. 6 (Dec., 1982), pp. 1790-1801
Published by: Wiley
DOI: 10.2307/1940121
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1940121
Page Count: 12
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Foraging Strategy of Honeybee Colonies in a Temperate Deciduous Forest
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Abstract

To understand the foraging strategy of honeybee colonies, we measured certain temporal and spatial patterns in the foraging activities of a colony living in a temperate deciduous forest. We monitored foraging activities by housing the colony in an observation hive and reading its recruitment dances to map its food source patches. We found that the colony routinely foraged several kilometres from its nest (median 1.7 km, 95% of foraging within 6.0 km), frequently (at least daily) adjusted its distribution of foragers on its patches, and worked relatively few patches each day (mean of 9.7 patches accounted for 90% of each day's forage). These foraging patterns, together with prior studies on the mechanisms of honeybee recruitment communication, indicate that the foraging strategy of a honeybee colony involves surveying the food source patches within a vast area around its nest, pooling the reconnaissance of its many foragers, and using this information to focus its forager force on a few high-quality patches within its foraging area.

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