Behavioural pharmacology in classical conditioning of the proboscis extension response in honeybees (Apis mellifera).
Felsenberg J., Gehring KB., Antemann V., Eisenhardt D.
Honeybees (Apis mellifera) are well known for their communication and orientation skills and for their impressive learning capability(1,2). Because the survival of a honeybee colony depends on the exploitation of food sources, forager bees learn and memorize variable flower sites as well as their profitability. Forager bees can be easily trained in natural settings where they forage at a feeding site and learn the related signals such as odor or color. Appetitive associative learning can also be studied under controlled conditions in the laboratory by conditioning the proboscis extension response (PER) of individually harnessed honeybees(3,4). This learning paradigm enables the study of the neuronal and molecular mechanisms that underlie learning and memory formation in a simple and highly reliable way(5-12). A behavioral pharmacology approach is used to study molecular mechanisms. Drugs are injected systemically to interfere with the function of specific molecules during or after learning and memory formation(13-16). Here we demonstrate how to train harnessed honeybees in PER conditioning and how to apply drugs systemically by injection into the bee flight muscle.