Floor and ceiling mirror configurations to study altitude control in honeybees

  • Serres Julien
  • Morice Antoine
  • Blary Constance
  • Miot Romain
  • Montagne Gilles
  • Ruffier Franck

  • Apis mellifera
  • Insect flight
  • Altitude control
  • Optic flow
  • Motion vision
  • Optical manipulation


To investigate altitude control in honeybees, an optical configuration was designed to manipulate or cancel the optic flow. It has been widely accepted that honeybees rely on the optic flow generated by the ground to control their altitude. Here, we create an optical configuration enabling a better understanding of the mechanism of altitude control in honeybees. This optical configuration aims to mimic some of the conditions that honeybees experience over a natural water body. An optical manipulation, based on a pair of opposed horizontal mirrors, was designed to remove any visual information coming from the floor and ceiling. Such an optical manipulation allowed us to get closer the seminal experiment of Heran & Lindauer (1963). Our results confirmed that a reduction or an absence of ventral optic flow in honeybees leads to a loss in altitude, and eventually a collision with the floor.