Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Study Finds Bees Can Learn Differences in Food’s Temperature

18.11.2009
Biologists at UC San Diego have discovered that honeybees can discriminate between food at different temperatures, an ability that may assist bees in locating the warm, sugar-rich nectar or high-protein pollen produced by many flowers.

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.

Media Contact: Kim McDonald, (858) 534-7572, kmcdonald@ucsd.edu

Kim McDonald | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.ucsd.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht The balancing act: An enzyme that links endocytosis to membrane recycling
07.12.2016 | National Centre for Biological Sciences

nachricht Transforming plant cells from generalists to specialists
07.12.2016 | Duke 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: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.

Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

NTU scientists build new ultrasound device using 3-D printing technology

07.12.2016 | Health and Medicine

The balancing act: An enzyme that links endocytosis to membrane recycling

07.12.2016 | Life Sciences

How to turn white fat brown

07.12.2016 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>