Flower choice copying in bumblebees

Bradley D. Worden, Daniel R. Papaj

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

102 Scopus citations


We tested a hypothesis originating with Darwin that bees outside the nest exhibit social learning in flower choices. Naive bumblebees, Bombus impatiens, were allowed to observe trained bees or artificial bees forage from orange or green flowers. Subsequently, observers of bees on green flowers landed more often on green flowers than non-observing controls or observers of models on orange flowers. These results demonstrate that bumblebees can change flower choice by observations of non-nest mates, a novel form of social learning in insects that could provide unique benefits to the colony.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)504-507
Number of pages4
JournalBiology letters
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 22 2005


  • Bumblebees
  • Social information
  • Social learning
  • Stimulus enhancement

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


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