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This week’s vocabulary term is:

“Orientation Flight”

Age related tasks of honey bees culminate in foraging, this being the final group of tasks they perform before death. Although the starting age for foraging is variable, it commonly peaks in bees over 20 days of age. Until this point the bees that were mainly nest bound leave the colony to collect nectar, pollen, water, and propolis so therefore need to familiarize themselves with the landscape and landmarks outside the nest and the position of the nest entrance. They do so by taking orientation flights in the days preceding their first foraging flights. Young bees walk out of the hive, fly a short distance in front, turn by 180 degrees so that they are facing the hive, then hover back and forth in arcs. After a few moments the orientation flight becomes characterized by the ever increasing circles around and above the hive and after a few minutes the bee returns to its hive without carrying any pollen or nectar (Capaldi and Dyer 1999). The orientation flights tend to take place on warm windless afternoons.  Interestingly, on these flights, ‘foragers to be’ take the opportunity to void their feces, as they had not had a chance to cleanse previously (Winston, 1987).

Source and for full article: http://www.arnia.co.nz/honey-bee-orientation/