Coping with nonrepairable body damage: effects of wing damage on foraging performance in bees

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Year of Publication:
Reuven Dukas, Lauren Dukas
Animal Behaviour
, , , , , , ,

Nonrepairable body damage such as tooth and wing wear commonly occur in animals and can dramatically alter their behaviour. We critically examined the effects of nonrepairable damage in a model system that enabled us to separate the effects of damage from other correlated effects of senescence. Compared to sham controls, honeybees with 20% of their front wings trimmed continued to forage at similar rates and reduced their net rate of food delivery by approximately 20%. The changes in flight behaviour allowing the foragers to cope with the substantial wing damage probably occurred immediately following wing trimming. Bees showed no increase in foraging performance either in successive trips or during the 2 days following wing trimming. The cost of maintaining relatively high foraging performance after sustaining severe wing damage was approximately a 20% increase in mortality rate, most likely owing to predation. Our results illustrate a remarkable versatility of honeybees’ flight behaviour, which allows them to handle the inevitable nonrepairable body damage that naturally occurs with ageing.


Back to Resources