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Volume 2011, Article ID 419793, 7 pages
Research Article

Experimental Wing Damage Affects Foraging Effort and Foraging Distance in Honeybees Apis mellifera

1School of Biological Sciences, University of Bristol, Woodland Road, Bristol BS8 1UG, UK
2School of Biology, University of Nottingham, University Park, Nottingham NG7 2RD, UK
3Department of Pomology and Apiculture, University of Agriculture in Krakow, 29 Listopada 54, 31-425 Krakow, Poland
4Facultad de Medicina Veterinaria y Zootecnia, Universidad Autónoma de Yucatán, Merida, Yucatan 97100, Mexico
5Department of Biology and Environmental Science, University of Sussex, Falmer, Brighton BN1 9QG, UK

Received 23 February 2011; Accepted 19 April 2011

Academic Editor: Felipe Andrés León Contrera

Copyright © 2011 Andrew D. Higginson et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Bees acquire wing damage as they age, and loss of wing area affects longevity and behaviour. This may influence colony performance via effects on worker behaviour. The effects of experimental wing damage were studied in worker honeybees in observation hives by recording survivorship, how often and for how long bees foraged, and by decoding waggle dances. Mortality rate increased with both age and wing damage. Damaged bees carried out shorter and/or less frequent foraging trips, foraged closer to the hive, and reported the profitability of flower patches to be lower than did controls. These results suggest that wing damage caused a reduction in foraging ability, and that damaged bees adjusted their foraging behaviour accordingly. Furthermore, the results suggest that wing damage affects the profitability of nectar sources. These results have implications for the colony dynamics and foraging efficiency in honeybees.