Reduced ability of ethanol drinkers for social communication in honeybees (Apis mellifera carnica Poll.)

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Foraging behavior was evaluated in honeybees trained to fly to a feeder containing sucrose only, 1% ethanol, 5% ethanol, or 10% ethanol.
The results indicated that exposure to ethanol disrupted several types of honeybee social behavior within the hive. Consumption of
ethanol at the feeding site reduced waggle dance activity in foraging bees and increased occurrence of tremble dance, food exchange, and
self-cleaning behavior. These ethanol-induced changes in behavior may reflect effects on the central nervous system similar to the previously
observed effects of food poisoning with sublethal doses of insecticides. 2006 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Honeybee; Waggle dance; Tremble dance; Apis mellifera; Social behavior; Ethanol

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Reduced ability of ethanol drinkers for social communication
in honeybees (Apis mellifera carnica Poll.)
Janko Bozica,*, Charles I. Abramsonb, Mateja Bedencica
aDepartment of Biology, Biotechnical Faculty, University of Ljubljana, Vecna pot 111, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia
bDepartment of Psychology, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK 74078, USA
Received 30 April 2005; received in revised form 17 October 2005; accepted 27 January 2006
Abstract
Foraging behavior was evaluated in honeybees trained to fly to a feeder containing sucrose only, 1% ethanol, 5% ethanol, or 10% ethanol.
The results indicated that exposure to ethanol disrupted several types of honeybee social behavior within the hive. Consumption of
ethanol at the feeding site reduced waggle dance activity in foraging bees and increased occurrence of tremble dance, food exchange, and
self-cleaning behavior. These ethanol-induced changes in behavior may reflect effects on the central nervous system similar to the previously
observed effects of food poisoning with sublethal doses of insecticides. 2006 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Honeybee; Waggle dance; Tremble dance; Apis mellifera; Social behavior; Ethanol
1. Introduction
This is the sixth in a series of behavioral experiments
testing the suitability of honeybees (Apis mellifera L.) as
an animal model for the study of alcoholism. Previous results
from this laboratory have shown several alcoholrelated
effects in bees that share properties in common with
similar effects in humans. These include self-administration,
disruption of learning, locomotion, and decision making,
preferences for commercially available alcoholic
beverages, the ability of an emetic to limit consumption
of ethanol, and an increase in aggression (Abramson
et al., 2000, 2003, 2004a, 2004b, 2005).
This paper continues the search for common behavioral
effects of ethanol on human and honeybee behavior by asking
the question whether ethanol consumption influences
the foraging honeybee behavior. It is known that consumption
of ethanol in humans can cause cognitive dysfunction,
aggression, and other abnormal social behavior (see recent
papers Giancola, 2004; Herzog, 1999; Peirce et al., 2000).
In the interest of further developing our social insect model,
this study evaluated the influence of ethanol consumption
on behavior of the foraging bee inside of the hive. The effects
of ethanol consumption on the waggle dance and other
behaviors of foraging bees were assessed after they returned
to the hive following a foraging trip.
After a foraging trip, a honeybee shares collected nectar
among nestmates by mouth-to-mouth food exchange,
also called trophalaxis (Winston, 1987). Excited upon
finding a nectar source, the foraging bee performs a waggle
dance on the comb inside of the hive. This dance contains
information about the location of a food source (von
Frisch, 1965). Bees that follow the dancer are in the best
position to pick up dance information (Bozic & Abramson,
2003). It is also known that bees that are disrupted
at a feeding site will emit a tremble dance rather than
a waggle dance. The tremble dance consists of irregular
movements in all directions (Seeley, 1992). We expected
that ethanol will affect waggle dance behavior and other
related behavior inside of the hive during foraging
activity.
2. Materials and methods
2.1. Procedure
Honeybees (Apis mellifera carnica Poll.) were reared in
a two frame observation hives during spring 2003. For 2
days, we individually marked potential foragers at the hive
entrance using numbered tags. After tagging, we trained
bees to forage to a feeder located 250 m from the hive.
The feeders were custom made from six, 200 ml plastic
* Corresponding author. Tel.: þ386-1-42-333-88; fax: þ386-1-25-733-
90.
E-mail address: janko.bozic@bf.uni-lj.si (J. Bozic).
0741-8329/06/$ e see front matter 2006 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
doi: 10.1016/j.alcohol.2006.01.005
Alcohol 38 (2006) 179e183

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