Walking bumblebees memorize panorama and local cues in a laboratory test of navigation

Nanxiang Jin, Tim Landgraf, Simon Klein, Randolf Menzel*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Single walking bumblebees, Bombus terrestris, were trained in an arena to localize a feeding site using a local cue (blue cardboard) and/or extramaze visual signals, in this case a panorama. The bees reliably chose the local cue in combination with the panorama location. When the local cue and the panorama location were dissociated by rotating the panorama by 90° they preferred the local cue, and they travelled preferentially from the local cue to the quadrant of the panorama location. Training the bees to a location defined only by its spatial relation to the panorama led to a choice preference for the respective quadrant within the first minute of active time, indicating that the panorama was sufficient for spatial guidance although it was not as salient a stimulus as the local cue. The bees steered towards the respective locations from any direction. We interpret our results as evidence for spatial learning with reference to both a local visual cue and a pattern of extramaze signals although the local cue was a more salient stimulus. This laboratory procedure for studying two basic forms of navigation should be useful for future attempts to unravel neural correlates of navigation in a central place foraging insect.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13-23
Number of pages11
JournalAnimal Behaviour
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • arena maze
  • guidance by extramaze cues
  • local cue learning
  • navigation
  • panorama learning


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