Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Wasps & Bumble Bees Heat Up, Fly Faster With Protein-Rich Food

14.07.2008
Good pollen makes bees hot, biologists at UC San Diego have found. Wasps warm up too when they find protein-rich meat, a separate experiment has shown.

In both cases warmer flight muscles likely speed the insects’ trips home, allowing them to quickly exploit a valuable resource before competitors arrive, the researchers report in separate studies, published this month in two scientific journals.

Because foragers of neither species eat the protein they collect, feeding it instead to their larvae, their warming must be a behavioral rather than a metabolic response to nutritious food, both research teams conclude.

Such similar responses found in two distantly related species – a bumble bee and a yellowjacket wasp whose ancestral lines diverged millions of years ago – suggest that the behavior is an ancestral trait. Bumble bees, but not yellowjackets, recruit fellow foragers to help gather good food; and they are still extra warm when they return to the hive.

... more about:
»Eckles »Nieh »foragers »insect »yellowjacket

“This is information that other bees could potentially use,” said associate professor of biology James Nieh who leads the research group that published both papers. Their elevated body heat could be a signal to other bees that has acquired a meaning beyond its original physiological function.

warm wasps

Western yellowjackets (Vespula pensylvanica) invaded Hawaii on a shipment of Christmas trees in the late 1970s. “Wasps forage on any kind of meat they can find: animal carcasses, other insects,” said UCSD doctoral student Megan Eckles. Their appetite for protein and efficient foraging are harming Hawaiian spider and insect populations.

Eckles and biology graduate student Erin Wilson traveled to Hawaii to see if behavioral heating increased the wasps’ predatory prowess. “The warmer a wasp’s body is, the faster it can fly,” Eckles said, and the more efficiently it can harvest its prey.

Eckles found four colonies of these wasps in Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island of Hawaii and set plates of canned chicken 20 meters away from the centers of their nests. She measured the temperatures of 134 foragers using a small pointer-like thermometer that aimed an infrared beam at their thoraxes while they were busy collecting the bait.

Wasps that found the most nutritious bait were hottest. “If they encounter a very high-protein source, such as pure chicken meat, their thoracic temperatures are dramatically higher than when they encounter a poor food source,” Eckles said. “You can see their wings quivering after they take a chunk of meat. While they cut it into a nice little aerodynamic ball, they’re vibrating their flight muscles to generate heat.”

When offered a plate of pulverized chicken, the wasps raised the temperature of their thoraxes a mean of 1.7 degrees Celsius (3.1 degrees Fahrenheit) compared to foragers who were kept from the bait by a mesh dome. Chicken mixed with an equal volume of nutritionless cellulose got a cooler response, an elevation of just 1.1 degrees Celsius (2.0 degrees Fahrenheit), and the wasps tarried longer possibly looking for a better source of food. Eckles, Wilson and Nieh, along with associate professor of biology David Holway report online (http://www-biology.ucsd.edu/labs/nieh/papers/Eckles_et_al_2008.pdf).

balmy bees

In a separate experiment Nieh and students Katherine Mapalad and Daniel Leu established colonies of bumble bees (Bombus impatiens) in a cool room at UCSD where they offered the insects pure pollen or pollen that had been cut to 75, 50 or 25 percent by weight with indigestible cellulose.

Using a thermal imager, the researchers measured the temperatures of 94 foraging bees just after they collected pollen and again later, right after the bees returned to the nest.

The more protein, the hotter the bees, the team reports (http://ucsdnews.ucsd.edu/PDF/07-08HotBees.pdf in the July 15 issue of the Journal of Experimental Biology. For each additional 25 percent measure of pollen, the bees raised their temperature by 0.4 degrees Celsius (0.7 degrees Fahrenheit) relative to the temperature of the room. They stayed nearly as warm on their return to the nest.

“That is information other bees could potentially use,” said Nieh. “Bees are very sensitive to hot spots in the colony.”

Bumble bees, but not wasps, will recruit other foragers to help exploit a valuable find; bees in the nest may judge the temperature of returning foragers, which they jostle, perhaps to determine whether they should seek the same source of pollen.

“It may be that a thermal signal has evolved. For that they would first need the basic phenomenon of heating up,” said Nieh, who studies the evolution of communication in bees. “Over evolutionary time, it could become a signal that bees recognize.”

The National Science Foundation funded this work.

Susan Brown | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.ucsd.edu

Further reports about: Eckles Nieh foragers insect yellowjacket

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Nanoparticle Exposure Can Awaken Dormant Viruses in the Lungs
16.01.2017 | Helmholtz Zentrum München - Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Gesundheit und Umwelt

nachricht Cholera bacteria infect more effectively with a simple twist of shape
13.01.2017 | Princeton University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

Im Focus: How to inflate a hardened concrete shell with a weight of 80 t

At TU Wien, an alternative for resource intensive formwork for the construction of concrete domes was developed. It is now used in a test dome for the Austrian Federal Railways Infrastructure (ÖBB Infrastruktur).

Concrete shells are efficient structures, but not very resource efficient. The formwork for the construction of concrete domes alone requires a high amount of...

Im Focus: Bacterial Pac Man molecule snaps at sugar

Many pathogens use certain sugar compounds from their host to help conceal themselves against the immune system. Scientists at the University of Bonn have now, in cooperation with researchers at the University of York in the United Kingdom, analyzed the dynamics of a bacterial molecule that is involved in this process. They demonstrate that the protein grabs onto the sugar molecule with a Pac Man-like chewing motion and holds it until it can be used. Their results could help design therapeutics that could make the protein poorer at grabbing and holding and hence compromise the pathogen in the host. The study has now been published in “Biophysical Journal”.

The cells of the mouth, nose and intestinal mucosa produce large quantities of a chemical called sialic acid. Many bacteria possess a special transport system...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

Nothing will happen without batteries making it happen!

05.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Water - as the underlying driver of the Earth’s carbon cycle

17.01.2017 | Earth Sciences

Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

17.01.2017 | Materials Sciences

Smart homes will “LISTEN” to your voice

17.01.2017 | Architecture and Construction

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>