Pollen is the protein resource for Apis mellifera and its selection affects colony development and productivity. Honey bee foragers mainly lose their capacity to digest pollen, so we expect that those pollen constituents that can only be evaluated after ingestion will not influence their initial foraging preferences at food sources. We predicted that pollen composition may be evaluated in a delayed manner within the nest, for example, through the effects that the pollen causes on the colony according to its suitability after being used by in-hive bees. To address whether pollen foraging is mediated by in-hive experiences, we conducted dual-choice experiments to test the avoidance of pollen adulterated with amygdalin, a deterrent that causes post-ingestion malaise. In addition, we recorded pollen selection in colonies foraging in the field after being supplied or not with amygdalin-adulterated pollen from one of the dominant flowering plants (Diplotaxis tenuifolia). Dual-choice experiments revealed that foragers did not avoid adulterated pollens at the foraging site; however, they avoided pollen that had been offered adulterated within the nest on the previous days. In field experiments, pollen samples from colonies supplied with amygdalin-adulterated pollen were more diverse than controls, suggesting that pollen foraging was biased towards novel sources. Our findings support the hypothesis that pollen assessment relies on in-hive experiences mediated by pollen that causes post-ingestive malaise.

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