Behavioral variation across the days and lives of honey bees
Michael L. Smith, Jacob D. Davidson, Benjamin Wild, David M. Dormagen, Tim Landgraf, Iain D. Couzin – 2022
In honey bee colonies, workers generally change tasks with age (from brood care, to nest work, to foraging). While these trends are well established, our understanding of how individuals distribute tasks during a day, and how individuals differ in their lifetime behavioral trajectories, is limited. Here, we use automated tracking to obtain long-term data on 4,100+ bees tracked continuously at 3 Hz, across an entire summer, and use behavioral metrics to compare behavior at different timescales. Considering single days, we describe how bees differ in space use, detection, and movement. Analyzing the behavior exhibited across their entire lives, we find consistent inter-individual differences in the movement characteristics of individuals. Bees also differ in how quickly they transition through behavioral space to ultimately become foragers, with fast-transitioning bees living the shortest lives. Our analysis framework provides a quantitative approach to describe individual behavioral variation within a colony from single days to entire lifetimes.