Bumblebees copy one another when contending with unfamiliar flowers
Researchers have reported findings that offer a surprising new twist to our understanding of how bumblebees, a vital floral pollinator, select the flowers from which they collect nectar. When faced with unfamiliar plants, foraging bees do not choose flowers entirely alone but instead copy the choices of other bees. The new findings suggest that bees adjust their behavior when dealing with flowers of unfamiliar plant species.
The observations are reported in the June 21 issue of Current Biology in a new paper by Elli Leadbeater and Lars Chittka of Queen Mary, University of London.
Bumblebees are highly social insects, but they do not recruit nestmates to feeding locations, and foragers have therefore been thought to rely mainly on individual experience when seeking out rewarding flowers. The role of other bees in these decisions has been considered only in the context of deterrence because the small scent marks that foragers leave after emptying flowers dissuade others from visiting.
In the new study, the researchers offered bumblebees the choice between several artificial-flower clusters in a laboratory setting. The bees preferred to feed from clusters where another bee was already collecting nectar, rather than making their own independent choices. Most interestingly, the bees only copied each other when they knew nothing about the flower species that they were visiting. When revisiting a flower species that they had tried before, they relied upon their own individual initiative.
Its not yet possible to say why bumblebees visit flowers that other bees are foraging on, but it could be that bees learn that the presence of another bee provides an efficient shortcut to success. These findings provide an intriguing new contribution to the ever-growing stack of evidence suggesting that insect foraging behavior is surprisingly complex.
Heidi Hardman | EurekAlert!
The most recent press releases about innovation >>>
Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:
Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.
This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...
Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion
Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...
Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.
"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...
In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.
A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...
By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.
"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...