James C. Makinson

James C. Makinson
Western Sydney University · Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment (HIE)

PhD, BSc (Hons 1).

About

25
Publications
7,567
Reads
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283
Citations
Introduction
I am a postdoctoral researcher at Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment studying stingless bee biology and pollination services. I am interested in navigation, space use and communication in social bees such as stingless bees, honey bees and bumblebees.
Additional affiliations
September 2014 - January 2019
Queen Mary, University of London
Position
  • Postdoctoral Research Assistant
September 2013 - August 2014
The University of Sydney
Position
  • Research Assistant
September 2009 - September 2013
The University of Sydney
Position
  • PhD Student

Publications

Publications (25)
Article
Full-text available
Extended ground level structures like roads or field edges can be important cues for navigating animals, seen for example in road-following pigeons. In a landscape devoid of skyline cues but with a rectangular grid of pathways and roads, we used harmonic radar to track free-flying bumble bees, Bombus terrestris. Individual bees consistently used gr...
Article
Full-text available
Male honeybees (drones) are thought to congregate in large numbers in particular “drone congregation areas” to mate. We used harmonic radar to record the flight paths of individual drones and found that drones favoured certain locations within the landscape which were stable over two years. Surprisingly, drones often visit multiple potential lekkin...
Article
This work demonstrates the development of a neural network algorithm able to determine the function of a bee's flight within six measurements (≈18 s with current radar technology) of its relative position on leaving a nest. Engineering advancements have created technology to track individual insects, unlocking research possibilities to investigate...
Article
Full-text available
The dispersal of animals from their birth place has profound effects on the immediate survival and longer-term persistence of populations. Molecular studies have estimated that bumblebee colonies can be established many kilometers from their queens’ natal nest site. However, little is known about when and how queens disperse during their lifespan....
Article
Full-text available
Animals travelling through the environment often face trade-offs between environmental parameters such as risk, travel speed and ease of movement when selecting their routes. Route selection is of particular importance for central place foragers like ants, which collectively and repeatedly use trails to exploit stable sources of food. We investigat...
Article
Full-text available
Animals that visit multiple foraging sites face a problem, analogous to the Travelling Salesman Problem, of finding an efficient route. We explored bumblebees' route development on an array of five artificial flowers in which minimising travel distances between individual feeders conflicted with minimising overall distance. No previous study of bee...
Article
Full-text available
Most studies on collective decision making in honeybees have been performed on the cavity-nesting Western honeybee, Apis mellifera. In more recent years, the open-nesting red dwarf honeybee Apis florea has been developed as a model organism of collective decision making in the context of nest-site selection. These studies have shown that the specif...
Article
Full-text available
With their abundant floral resources, urban community gardens have the potential to play an important role in pollinator conservation. At the same time, the gardens themselves are dependent upon the pollination services provided by insects. Thus, understanding the variables that can increase bee richness or abundance in community gardens can contri...
Article
Full-text available
Transportation networks play a crucial role in human and animal societies. For a transportation network to be efficient, it must have adequate capacity to meet traffic demand. Network design becomes increasingly difficult in situations where traffic demand can change unexpectedly. In humans, network design is often constrained by path dependency be...
Article
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Insect pollinators such as bumblebees play a vital role in many ecosystems, so it is important to understand their foraging movements on a landscape scale. We used harmonic radar to record the natural foraging behaviour of Bombus terrestris audax workers over their entire foraging career. Every flight ever made outside the nest by four foragers was...
Article
Full-text available
The last few years have seen a renewed interest in the mechanisms behind nest-site selection in honeybees. Most studies have focused on the cavity-nesting honeybee Apis mellifera, but more recently studies have included the open-nesting A. florea. Amongst species comparisons are important if we want to understand how the process has been adapted ov...
Article
Full-text available
All honeybees use the waggle dance to recruit nestmates. Studies on the dance precision of Apis mellifera have shown that the dance is often imprecise. Two hypotheses have been put forward aimed at explaining this imprecision. The first argues that imprecision in the context of foraging is adaptive as it ensures that the dance advertises the same p...
Article
Full-text available
Many animals move in groups, but the mechanisms by which a group of animals form a consensus about where to move are not well understood. In honeybees group movement generally falls into two behavioural categories: reproductive swarming and colony migration. In both contexts the bees use the dance language to decide on a location to move to. During...
Article
Full-text available
During reproductive swarming honey bee scouts perform two very important functions. Firstly, they find new nesting locations and return to the swarm cluster to communicate their discoveries. Secondly, once the swarm is ready to depart informed scout bees act as guides, leading the swarm to its final destination. We have previously hypothesised that...
Article
Full-text available
Reproductive swarms of honeybees are faced with the problem of finding a good site to establish a new colony. We examined the potential effects of swarm size on the quality of nest-site choice through a combination of modelling and field experiments. We used an individual-based model to examine the effects of swarm size on decision accuracy under t...
Article
Full-text available
We present an agent-based model for the nest site selection process of the open-nesting red dwarf honeybee, Apis florea. Our main aim was to determine how nest site requirements affect the bees' decision-making process. We either calculated our model parameters from experimental data or chose them so that our model would generate similar numbers of...
Article
Full-text available
The Red Dwarf honeybee (Apis florea) is one of two basal species in the genus Apis. A. florea differs from the well-studied Western Hive bee (Apis mellifera) in that it nests in the open rather than in cavities. This fundamental difference in nesting biology is likely to have implications for nest-site selection, the process by which a reproductive...
Article
Full-text available
To protect their colonies from robbing by conspecifics, honeybees have evolved nest-guarding behaviour. Guards adjust their acceptance threshold so that, as the likelihood of robbing increases, fewer non-nestmates are admitted. In addition to the possibility of robbing, queenless colonies may be infiltrated by reproductively parasitic non-nestmates...

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Projects

Project (1)
Project
My colleagues and I are using harmonic radar to track the flight paths of free flying honey bees and bumblebees in agricultural areas. Our aim is to understand the fundamental mechanisms used by insect pollinators to balance the trade-off between exploration of the environment and exploitation of known resources. By understanding how free flying bees interact with the surrounding landscape, we hope to be able to make meaningful predictions about the flow of plant genes, insect pathogens, and pollinators themselves throughout the environment.