Simulation of Floral Specialization in Bees
Submitted to CEC2004

Daniel Ashlock and Jessica Oftelie

Abstract PDF eprint

In this study virtual bees are evolved to visit simulated flowers and gather nectar. The object of this study is to see if floral constancy arises in the virtual bees. Floral constancy, observed in real bees, is the tendency to harvest nectar from only one type of flower. Flowers can only reproduce if they have received the proper pollen type from a visiting bee and so floral constancy is potentially of substantial importance to flowering plants. Virtual bees are evolved for 250 generations and evaluated for floral specialization. Floral specialization is defined in this study as the average of the maximum visits to one flower type divided by the total number of flower visits. The initial hypothesis was that populations with flowers that had nearly equal nectar yields would not specialize, but populations with flowers that had a large difference in yield would specialize in the flower with more nectar. Although populations with a choice between nearly equal yields stabilized at non-specialization, the other populations did not behave as expected. Populations that were given one flower with nearly no nectar (less than 0.1000) and a flower with a larger amount of nectar specialized in the flower with nectar, but when given a choice between flowers with any amount of nectar greater than 0.1000, the populations eventually stabilized at non-specialization.