Document Type



Master of Science


Biology, Ecology

Date of Defense


Graduate Advisor

Aimee Dunlap, Department of Biology


Aimee Dunlap, PhD

Nathan Muchhala, PhD

Sonya Bahar, PhD


Bumblebees rely on information gathered from their environment to make the best choices they can when foraging for pollen and nectar. The type of information gathered should influence how a bee learns and remembers it, but other factors such as the size of the bee’s brain may also play a role in the learning and remembering process. While social information learned from other organisms and information gathered directly from flowers can each be used alone to improve both the efficiency with which a bee learns to forage from a flower and how accurately and how long the bee remembers these foraging skills, combining more than one type of information should reduce the uncertainty bees have about their choices and further improve their learning and memory. We examined how information can influence learning and memory in bumblebees by training them to associate social or floral information paired with flower color with a nectar reward and then testing their memory after either one or twenty-four hours. We found a clear improvement in forager learning and memory from the different types of compound stimuli when compared to the control treatment of simple color difference, but the nectar guide treatment had the most significant influence on both learning and memory. Although brain size and retention interval also had no significant effect, interactions between flower color and treatment type were found, and differences in how bees used floral and social information were found when the results were compared to other experiments.