While other researchers had previously found hints that bees might have the ability to do this, the UCSD biologists provide the first detailed experimental evidence in a paper that will be published in the December 1 issue of the Journal of Experimental Biology. An early online version of the paper is being made available by the journal this week.
“We show that honeybees have the ability to associate temperature differences with food,” said James Nieh, an associate professor of biology who headed the study. “This information may help guide bees looking for food by allowing them to distinguish which bees are returning to the hive with the highest quality of food.”
“Body temperature is seen in terms of its net caloric benefit to the other foragers,” said Nieh. “The warmest forager in the nest is the one most likely to be visiting of the sweetest, highest quality food.”
Nieh and researchers in his laboratory last year published a paper showing that bumblebees returning to their nests with higher quality pollen were warmer than bees that collected pollen with less protein. That gave the UCSD scientists evidence that bees may change their body temperature to reflect food quality, even for food that they do not consume and that has no direct metabolic impact on the bee.
Knowing that honeybees sense the temperature of returning foragers with their antennae, while these foragers conduct elaborate dances within the hive to communicate food location, Nieh and his colleagues wondered whether bees also sensed the temperature of their food. With the help of two undergraduate students, Tobin Hammer and Curtis Hata, he sought to find out whether bees possessed this ability.
Training bees to stick out their tongues in return for a sugary reward when the team touched a warm surface to a bee’s antenna, the researchers found that bees could learn to identify warmth with food. Next, they tested whether the bees could learn to associate temperature differences with a food reward and discovered that this was also the case.
However, while the bees’ abilities to recognize the temperature difference increased dramatically as the differences in temperatures rose, the scientists discovered that the bees were better at recognizing warm temperature differences than they were at cold temperature differences. In fact, the bees’ abilities were twice as good at recognizing differences of 10 degrees Celsius above room temperature than they were at recognizing differences of minus 10 degrees Celsius below room temperature.
The researchers point out in their paper that this enhanced ability to distinguish warmer temperature differences could be an advantage for gathering nectar in many flowers. During the day, they note, temperatures in the centers of daffodils can be up to 8 degrees Celsius warmer than they are outside the flowers.
“A honeybee’s ability to associate positive temperature differences with nectar rewards could also have a natural role inside the nest,” the researchers conclude in their paper. “Honeybee foragers can elevate their body temperature after returning from a high-quality food source, and foragers returning from natural nectar or pollen sources increase their thoracic temperature when the colony has need for these resources.”
The study was supported by the UC San Diego Opportunities for Research in Behavioral Sciences Program, which is supported by the National Science Foundation. ORBS is a program for high school students and undergraduates that provides research experience for students who are traditionally underrepresented in the sciences.
Kim McDonald | Newswise Science News
Meadows beat out shrubs when it comes to storing carbon
23.11.2017 | Norwegian University of Science and Technology
Migrating Cells: Folds in the cell membrane supply material for necessary blebs
23.11.2017 | Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster
Heat from the friction of rocks caused by tidal forces could be the “engine” for the hydrothermal activity on Saturn's moon Enceladus. This presupposes that...
The WHO reports an estimated 429,000 malaria deaths each year. The disease mostly affects tropical and subtropical regions and in particular the African continent. The Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC teamed up with the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME and the Institute of Tropical Medicine at the University of Tübingen for a new test method to detect malaria parasites in blood. The idea of the research project “NanoFRET” is to develop a highly sensitive and reliable rapid diagnostic test so that patient treatment can begin as early as possible.
Malaria is caused by parasites transmitted by mosquito bite. The most dangerous form of malaria is malaria tropica. Left untreated, it is fatal in most cases....
The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.
Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...
Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.
That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...
Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.
During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....
15.11.2017 | Event News
15.11.2017 | Event News
30.10.2017 | Event News
23.11.2017 | Information Technology
23.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
23.11.2017 | Life Sciences