Leslie Ng, Jair E. Garcia, and Adrian G. Dyer
Honey bees (Apis mellifera Linnaeus) are known for their capacity to learn arbitrary relations between colours, odours, and even numbers. However, it is not known whether bees can use temporal signals as cueing stimuli in a similar way during symbolic delayed matching-to-sample tasks. Honey bees potentially process temporal signals during foraging activities, but the extent to which they can use such information is unclear. Here we investigated if free-flying honey bees could use either illumination colour, or illumination duration, as potential context-setting cues to enable their subsequent decisions for a symbolic delayed matching-to-sample task. We found that bees could use the changing colour context of the illumination to complete the subsequent spatial vision task at a level significant from chance expectation, but could not use the duration of either a 1s or 3s light as a cueing stimulus. These findings suggest that bees cannot use temporal information as a cueing stimulus as efficiently as other signals such as colour, and is consistent with previous field observations suggesting a limited interval timing capacity in honey bees.