Meeting Abstract

110.1  Saturday, Jan. 7  Learning kills JAUMANN, Sarah; NAUG, Dhruba*; Colorado State University; Colorado State University dhruba@colostate.edu

While learning is generally considered only in terms of its substantial benefits, what is often overlooked is that there is a substantial energetic cost associated with it. However, past research has failed to demonstrate such a cost of learning in honeybees, leading to the argument that sociality might be able to buffer these costs. We re-examined the energetic cost of learning in the honeybee Apis mellifera by comparing the subsequent survival of bees that were made to undergo associative learning with those that were not. Bees that were made to learn died sooner than bees that were not made to learn, suggesting that bees indeed pay an energetic cost of learning and we further confirmed this by assaying the hemolymph carbohydrate levels of bees before and after they underwent the associative learning procedure. Based on our earlier finding that bees infected with a parasite show an energetic stress, the current results provide a possible novel link between parasitic disease and cognitive impairment, which has broad implications for a number of areas as well specific implications for the current phenomenon of disappearing bees.