While it may take you days to learn your way around a new town, it only takes a few seconds for a honeybee to learn the details of a new landscape. In Investing in learning: why do honeybees, Apis mellifera, vary the durations of learning flights? by Cynthia A. Wei and Fred C. Dyer, the honeybee's ability to learn is observed through experimentations controlling their learning flights and feeding environment.
[...] Then, in the second experiment, experimenters were interested in the effects of removing food on the honeybees learning habits. To accomplish this, they let twelve bees gather food from the table 13 times, and then they removed the sucrose solution for approximately 8 minutes while the bees continued searching for the food. The reason that the delay was induced was to stimulate a sense of uncertainty about the food location, which then encouraged the bees to conduct a reorientation flight. [...]
[...] Since Wei and Dyer were interested in how the honeybees used visual information gathered in learning flights, they sealed the Nasanov glands and used clean equipment in each experiment. In Wei and Dyer's experiment, they hypothesized that when a change in their feeding environment occurs, honeybees that have longer learning flights will be more likely and more accurate in their return to their last departure location. To test this idea, the researchers created three experiments, controlling food supply and location, all of which focused on learning flights. [...]
[...] Although the honeybees had to surrender time and energy in order to complete reorientation flights after the stimulated ecological changes, the visual information gathered during these flights allows them to accurately return to rewarding locations of food. It is interesting to think about how other animals adjust their learning habits depending on a given situation. Surely humans do this, placing a value on certain information and then determining how much effort we're willing to put into learning about a new situation. [...]
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