A team of biologists working in Brazil may have found the clues to resolving the longstanding mystery of why some species of bees, such as honey bees, communicate the location of food with dances in their hives and why other bees simply leave scent trails from the food source to the nest.
In the paper to appear in the October 22nd issue of the Proceedings of the Royal Society, biologists at the University of California, San Diego and the University of São Paulo report that one species of Brazilian stingless bee uses a slightly different form of communication, presumably in an effort to confuse its foraging competitors. An early on-line version of the paper is available at www.pubs.royalsoc.ac.uk/proc_bio/proc_bio.html.
“Previously, biologists thought different species of bees either marked the food source or left an odor trail from the food all the way to the nest,” says James Nieh, an assistant professor of biology at UCSD who headed the study. “We have discovered an intermediate strategy, in which bees leave an odor trail extending a short distance from the food source. This abbreviated trail may be less conspicuous to foraging competitors.”
Sherry Seethaler | UCSD
One step closer to reality
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