The moment before touchdown: Landing manoeuvres of the honeybee Apis mellifera

Evangelista, C., Kraft, P., Dacke, M., Reinhard, J. and Srinivasan, M. V. (2010) The moment before touchdown: Landing manoeuvres of the honeybee Apis mellifera. Journal of Experimental Biology, 213 2: 262-270. doi:10.1242/jeb.037465

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Author Evangelista, C.
Kraft, P.
Dacke, M.
Reinhard, J.
Srinivasan, M. V.
Title The moment before touchdown: Landing manoeuvres of the honeybee Apis mellifera
Journal name Journal of Experimental Biology   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0022-0949
Publication date 2010-01-01
Year available 2009
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1242/jeb.037465
Open Access Status File (Publisher version)
Volume 213
Issue 2
Start page 262
End page 270
Total pages 9
Editor Dow, J. A. T
Perry, S.
Hoppeler, H
Place of publication United Kingdom
Publisher The Company of Biologists
Language eng
Subject C1
080106 Image Processing
170112 Sensory Processes, Perception and Performance
010202 Biological Mathematics
970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences
970109 Expanding Knowledge in Engineering
Abstract Although landing is a crucial part of insect flight, it has attracted relatively little study. Here, we investigate, for the first time, the final moments of a honeybee's (Apis mellifera) landing manoeuvre. Using high-speed video recordings, we analyse the behaviour of bees as they approach and land on surfaces of various orientations. The bees enter a stable hover phase, immediately prior to touchdown. We have quantified behaviour during this hover phase and examined whether it changes as the tilt of the landing surface is varied from horizontal (floor), through sloped (uphill) and vertical (wall), to inverted (ceiling). The bees hover at a remarkably constant distance from the surface, irrespective of its tilt. Body inclination increases progressively as the tilt of the surface is increased, and is accompanied by an elevation of the antennae. The tight correlation between the tilt of the surface, and the orientation of the body and the antennae, indicates that the bee's visual system is capable of inferring the tilt of the surface, and pointing the antennae toward it. Touchdown is initiated by extending the appendage closest to the surface, namely, the hind legs when landing on horizontal or sloping surfaces, and the front legs or antennae when landing on vertical surfaces. Touchdown on inverted surfaces is most likely triggered by a mechanosensory signal from the antennae. Evidently, bees use a landing strategy that is flexibly tailored to the varying topography of the terrain.
Keyword honeybee
Apis mellifera
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: 2010 Higher Education Research Data Collection
Queensland Brain Institute Publications
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 28 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
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Created: Sun, 10 Jan 2010, 10:04:43 EST