PhD defence

How bees land. Visual guidance and sensorimotor control of landing maneuvers in bees

PhD candidate Pulkit P (Pulkit) Goyal MSc
Promotor JL (Johan) van Leeuwen FT (Florian) Muijres
External copromotor dr. GCHE de Croon
Organisation Wageningen University, Wageningen Institute of Animal Sciences (WIAS), Experimental Zoology

Wed 26 January 2022 16:00 to 17:30



Landing is arguably one of the most important and difficult behaviors that flying animals regularly perform. It involves a precise control of approach speed as an animal draws closer to the landing surface. Poor control can result in high-impact collisions with the surface that can be harmful for animals. Despite its importance in flight, how animals approach a surface for landing is not yet fully understood. Here, I contribute to answering this question by examining the landing approaches of bumblebees and honeybees. Foraging bees perform up to a thousand landings per hour when gathering nectar and pollen from flowers. Here, I developed and used a novel analysis to demonstrate that bumblebees and honeybees have evolved a sophisticated flight control strategy to execute rapid landings. Moreover, I show that bees have evolved ways to precisely adjust this guidance strategy to deal with environmental challenges such as flight in low light conditions and in high winds.