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Beehave Lab

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"Beehave", the bee behavior laboratory, opened in 1994, aims to use bumblebees foraging on artificial flowers as a model system to study interactive decision-making in animals. The laboratory is run by a group of ecologists from the Life Sciences Institute of The Hebrew University. The laboratory contains two flight rooms, a control room for observers, and a office/storage space. Experiments involve individually marked bees with known foraging histories, and groups of unidentified bees. Two sets of 48 artificial flowers, which dispense discrete units of sugar solution to the bees, were designed and built in order to obtain precise information on the bees' foraging decisions. The color, shape, size and spatial distribution of the 'flowers' can be manipulated. The system allows control over the temporal and spatial reward schedule offered to the bees. Flower visitation sequence, as well as time allocation to feeding and flight, are recorded automatically for each individual. 

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The BeeHave group members are:

Rachel Arnon

Noam Bar Sha

Prof. Dan Cohen

Tal Fuchs

Dr. Tamar Keasar

Prof Uzi Motro

Prof. Avi Shmida

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1. Search image and flight-time dynamics.
Shifting between food sources is time-consuming for bees. Does this task become easier with practice?

2. The evolution of colored bracts in flowers.
Several species of flowers carry a 'flag' of colored, sterile, bracts at the top of their inflorescences. Do these bracts serve a role in the pollination of these plants?

3. Probability matching in bees.
How do bees allocate time between two food sources that give out food with different probabilities?

4. Numerical abilities in bees
Bees may benefit from knowing how many food items are available to them. Can bees count?

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Selected Publications

Keasar T, Motro U, Shur Y and Shmida A, 1996. Overnight memory retention of foraging bumblebees in imperfect. Animal Behavior 52:95-104.

Keasar T, Shmida A and Motro U, 1996. Innate movement rules in foraging bees: flight distances are affected by recent rewards and are correlated with choice of flower type. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 39:381-388.

Keasar T, Bilu Y, Motro U and Shmida A, 1997. Foraging choices of bumblebees on equally-rewarding artificial flowers of different colors. Israel Journal of Plant Sciences 45:219-229.

Goubitz S, Keasar T and Shmida A., 1998 Age-related flower sampling in bumble bees: an analysis of unsuccessful foragers. Discussion paper no. 158, Center for Rationality and Interactive Decision Theory, The Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Israel.

Keasar T, Fershtman I, Forotan R and Shmida A., 1998 Learning performance of foraging bees during manipulation of inter-visit intervals. Discussion paper no. 176, Center for Rationality and Interactive Decision Theory, The Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Israel.

Blarer A, Keasar T and Shmida A., 1998. Does learning of flower size by foraging bumblebees involve concept formation? Discussion paper no. 177, Center for Rationality and Interactive Decision Theory, The Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Israel.

Keasar T, 2000. The spatial distribution of non-rewarding artificial flowers affects pollinator attraction. Animal Behaviour 60:639-646.

Rashkovich E, Keasar T, Cohen D, Shmida A. , 2000. Choice behavior of bees in two-armed bandit situations: experiments and possible decision rules. Discussion paper no. 226 , Center for Rationality and Interactive Decision Theory, The Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Israel.


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Related Links

The Hebrew University Life Sciences Institute

Rotem - The Israel Plant Information Database

The Animal Behavior Course


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