Decline Of Honeybees Research Paper



This study was conducted to investigate if the previous research on oddity learning in honeybees was generalizable. Like the original experiment, two-colored patterns were used as the stimulus for the bees, however, this experiment doubled the available stimuli presented to the bees. By doubling the available stimuli, the researchers predicted that the honeybee’s oddity learning would be improved and show no preference for the presented stimuli. Another area of interest for this experiment centered around the amount of oddity learning problems that were presented at a given time. In this experiment, the researchers presented the trial group of honeybees with a four-stimulus oddity problem and compared those results with a control group solving oddity problems with three stimuli. All of these interventions were conducted to determine if honeybees could solve oddity problems when the stimuli was a mix of two-color patterns or solid colors that varied between trials (Muszynski & Couvillon, 2020).  

Based on the studies conducted by Bitterman in 1988 and 1996, honeybees showcased associative learning processes such as negative and positive contrast, partial reinforcement, conditional discrimination, dimensional transfer, and probability matching. In this experiment, the honeybees performed similarly to the other vertebrates tested. According to Bitterman, “different phenomena may be produced by the same processes, and what appear to be identical phenomena may be produced by different processes” (Bitterman, 1975). However, in recent years various studies have been conducted that revolved around honeybees. For example, Brown and Sayde were able to train honeybees in different and same discrimination. Whereas Muszynski and Couvillon focused on training honeybees in oddity problems that included three stimuli. While oddity learning is not a new concept, it has seldom been done in honeybees. This is significant because every vertebrate that has been tested with this framework required hundreds, if not thousands, of trials before oddity learning was achieved. Whereas honeybees were able to achieve oddity learning in fewer trials and still be considered “better than chance” results (Muszynski & Couvillon, 2020). 

The researchers in this experiment hypothesized that the group of honeybees that were presented with stimuli that had no common color would be able to solve the oddity problem quicker than the other groups. On the other hand, they theorized that the trial groups that were exposed to stimuli with one common color could take longer to solve the problem and interfere with the honeybee’s ability to discriminate the oddity (Muszynski & Couvillon, 2020). 

This study utilized thirty-six forager honeybees, all of which had never participated in a previous experiment received training in discrimination control, and nine bees, in both the control and experimental group, received oddity training. All of the training that the honeybees received was individualized and consisted of a singular training session that lasted several hours. Every honeybee was exposed to “pretraining” which consisted of individually exposing the participating bees to the four colors utilized in this experiment. To encourage the bees to investigate the area, the researchers place a drop of sucrose solution on the stimuli. The experimental trials only began once the honeybee drank the solution, returned to the hive, and then returned to the pretraining stimulus on its own (Muszynski & Couvillon, 2020).

When the stimuli were presented to the honeybees, it was generated through PowerPoint slides and consisted of circles divided into a pinwheel pattern. Each circle was comprised of either solid colors or was a two-colored pattern. The colors presented to the honeybees included yellow, green, purple, and white. These colors were picked because previous studies utilized this color palette, and it was determined that this color group was both discriminable and equally preferred by the honeybees. The honeybee’s choice was only recorded if it landed and drank the sucrose solution on the presented color wheel (Muszynski & Couvillon, 2020). 

After reviewing all the results provided by the article, it appears that all of the oddity groups exhibited oddity learning. Also, the choices made by the oddity learning groups were consistent enough to be deemed as choices rather than chances. However, the researchers did note that there is a possibility of the honeybee’s learning pattern vs solid color discrimination rather than oddity learning. Though, the researchers were able to validate their results through the control group data which had better performance than all the oddity groups. The control group data showcase that category discrimination is an easy task for the honeybees to complete. Whereas oddity learning is perceived as a difficult task for the honeybees and the researchers speculated that three stimuli was too stimulating, however, the goal of the experiment was unaffected. While there is still more research to be done in this field, the researchers were able to build upon preexisting data, present new questions, and showcase that honeybees are the only invertebrate to present evidence of relational learning (Muszynski & Couvillon, 2020).