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Data for: Visual guidance of honeybees approaching a vertical landing surface

Cite this dataset

Goyal, Pulkit; Baird, Emily; Srinivasan, Mandyam V.; Muijres, Florian (2023). Data for: Visual guidance of honeybees approaching a vertical landing surface [Dataset]. Dryad.


Landing is a critical phase for flying animals, whereby many rely on visual cues to perform controlled touchdown. Foraging honeybees rely on regular landings on flowers to collect food, crucial for colony survival and reproduction. Here, we explore how honeybees utilize optical-expansion cues to regulate approach flight speed when landing on vertical surfaces. Three sensory-motor control models have been proposed for landings of natural flyers. Landing honeybees maintain a constant optical-expansion-rate set-point, resulting in a gradual decrease in approach velocity and gentile touchdown. Bumblebees exhibit a similar strategy, but they regularly switch to a new constant optic-expansion-rate set-point. Meanwhile, landing birds fly at a constant time-to-contact to achieve faster landings. Here, we re-examined the landing strategy of honeybee by fitting the three models to individual approach flights of honeybees landing on platforms with varying optic-expansion cues. Surprisingly, the landing model identified in bumblebees proves to be the most suitable for these honeybees. This reveals that honeybees adjust their optic-expansion-rate in a stepwise manner. Bees flying at low optic-expansion-rates tended to stepwise increase their set-point, while those flying at high optic-expansion-rates tend to stepwise decrease it. This modular landing control system enables honeybees to land rapidly and reliably under a wide range of initial flight conditions and visual landing platform patterns. The remarkable similarity between the landing strategies of honeybees and bumblebees suggests that this may also be prevalent among other flying insects. Furthermore, these findings hold promising potential for bioinspired guidance systems in flying robots.


Australian Research Council, Award: CE0561903

Australian Research Council, Award: DP0559306

United States Air Force Office of Scientific Research, Award: FA4869-07-1-0010

Dutch Research Council, Award: NWO-TTW 15039

Dutch Research Council, Award: NWO/VI.Vidi.193.054