Honeybee Navigation: Nature and Calibration of the "Odometer"

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Science  04 Feb 2000:
Vol. 287, Issue 5454, pp. 851-853
DOI: 10.1126/science.287.5454.851

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There are two theories about how honeybees estimate the distance to food sources. One theory proposes that distance flown is estimated in terms of energy consumption. The other suggests that the cue is visual, and is derived from the extent to which the image of the world has moved on the eye during the trip. Here the two theories are tested by observing dances of bees that have flown through a short, narrow tunnel to collect a food reward. The results show that the honeybee's “odometer” is visually driven. They also provide a calibration of the dance and the odometer in visual terms.

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