Summertime blues: August foraging leaves honey bees empty-handed.

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A successful honey bee forager tells her nestmates the location of good nectar and pollen with the waggle dance, a symbolic language that communicates a distance and direction. Because bees are adept at scouting out profitable forage and are very sensitive to energetic reward, we can use the distance that bees communicate via waggle dances as a proxy for forage availability, where the further the bees fly, the less forage can be found locally. Previously we demonstrated that bees fly furthest in the summer compared with spring or autumn to bring back forage that is not necessarily of better quality. Here we show that August is also the month when significantly more foragers return with empty crops (P = 7.63e-06). This provides additional support that summer may represent a seasonal foraging challenge for honey bees.

Apis mellifera, forage availability, foraging dearth, foraging ecology, waggle dance