5.4. Mechanosensory conditioning

Similar to tactile learning, honey bees can be trained classically to mechanosensory stimulation of their fixed antennae. Here, bees are rewarded with sucrose, while their antennae are stimulated with a tactile stimulus, even though the bees themselves are passive (Giurfa and Malun, 2004). Unlike tactile conditioning, this procedure employs classical conditioning, because the bee does not need to demonstrate active antennal scanning movements.

Appetitive olfactory learning and tactile learning strongly depend on individual gustatory responsiveness. Bees with high responsiveness learn fast, while bees that display a low gustatory responsiveness need more training to form an association (Scheiner et al., 1999; 2001a, b, 2003, 2005; Amdam et al., 2010). If bees differing in their gustatory responsiveness are rewarded with equal subjective rewards, depending on their individual gustatory responsiveness, learning performance does not differ between individuals (Scheiner et al., 2005). This underlines the importance of measuring individual gustatory responsiveness prior to testing learning abilities.