The ability of honeybees to gauge the distances of short flights was investigated under controlled laboratory conditions where a variety of potential odometric cues such as flight duration, energy consumption, image motion, airspeed, inertial navigation and landmarks were manipulated. Our findings indicate that honeybees can indeed measure short distances travelled and that they do so solely by analysis of image motion. Visual odometry seems to rely primarily on the motion that is sensed by the lateral regions of the visual field. Computation of distance flown is re-commenced whenever a prominent landmark is encountered en route. 'Re-setting' the odometer (or starting a new one) at each landmark facilitates accurate long-range navigation by preventing excessive accumulation of odometric errors. Distance appears to be learnt on the way to the food source and not on the way back.
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