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University of Nevada Reno
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Bees on a sugar rush? New Animal Behaviour paper out!

Anne Leonard

Most flowers offer visitors some combination of nectar AND pollen, but nearly all research on bee cognition involves nectar alone (or, increasingly, pollen alone). We wondered how well bees learned an association between color and a given resource (pollen) when they were also collecting the alternative resource (nectar).

The paper tells a complex story that can be easily summarized: while collecting pollen had no effect on bees' ability to learn a nectar-color association, collecting nectar impaired their ability to learn a pollen-color association.

Read the whole story for our thoughts on why this might be happening, and what it might mean for plant fitness. This paper was a long time in coming, so it's nice to see out!