Flight patterns of honeybees (Apis mellifera ligustica) were quantified as the bees foraged among artificial 'flowers' for sugar solution ('nectar'). Bees exhibited considerable directionality on successive flights which minimized repeat visits to flowers and they usually made short flights to nearby flowers, thus minimizing flight time. The change in direction on successive flights between flowers were independent of the number of immediately preceding consecutive rewarding visits but decreased as the number of non-rewarding visits increased. Flight distances were short after visits to rewarding flowers but increased as the number of immediately preceding non-rewarding visits increased. The bees' rate of caloric intake (calories/time) was highest at the floral arrays having the highest density, and it was greater at arrays with clumped nectar-distributions than at those with randomly distributed nectar. These findings are explained in terms of the observed flight patterns.
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