57.6 Sunday, Jan. 5 14:45 Interactions between innate color preferences, individual experience and social information in bumblebee foraging decisions JONES, PL*; RYAN, MJ; CHITTKA, L; University of Texas at Austin; University of Texas; Queen Mary University of London email@example.com
Social information influences foraging behavior in many taxa, and the costs and benefits of social learning have led to the prediction that animals use social information selectively. We examined how the reward quality acquired during individual experience affects the use of social information in the European bumblebee, Bombus terrestris. Bees were trained individually to associate artificial flowers of an assigned color with high quality sucrose rewards (50% by volume) or low quality sucrose rewards (20% by volume). Individual bees were then presented with flowers of a novel color that were associated with high quality rewards and with the presence of conspecific demonstrator bees (social information). Bees without training significantly preferred the flower color that was demonstrated by conspecifics. Bees that were trained on a color with high quality sucrose rewards ignored social information and continued to forage on the trained color. Of the bees that were trained on a color with low quality sucrose rewards, there was an effect of the trained color. Bumblebees innately prefer blue flowers to yellow flowers. Bees that were trained to associate blue flowers with low sucrose rewards did not learn to approach the socially demonstrated yellow flowers. Bees that were trained to associate yellow flowers with low quality rewards, however, were significantly more likely to learn to approach the socially demonstrated blue flowers. This is the first examination of social learning strategies in bumblebees and the first study to examine the interactions between innate preferences, individual experience and social learning in any taxa.