Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Bees Go 'Off-color' When They Are Sickly

Date:
July 19, 2008
Source:
University of Leicester
Summary:
Bumble bees go "off color" and can't remember which flowers have the most nectar when they are feeling under the weather. The behavior of the bumbling bees reveals that, like humans who are ill, bees are often not at their most astute and clever when they feel poorly.

A bee feeds off an artificial flower.
Credit: Copyright Tom Ings

Bumble-bees go 'off colour' and can't remember which flowers have the most nectar when they are feeling under the weather, a new study from the University of Leicester reveals.

Related Articles


The behaviour of the bumbling bees reveals that, like humans who are ill, bees are often not at their most astute and clever when they feel poorly.

Lecturer in Animal Biology at the University of Leicester Dr. Eamonn Mallon, who lead the research group, said: "Disease can influence different behaviours including foraging, mate choice, and predator avoidance. Several recent papers have shown reduced learning abilities in infected insects. However, it is difficult to separate the effects of the immune response from the direct effects of the parasite. That was the purpose of our study"

Bees were divided into a control group and a group that were injected with lipopolysaccharide, a substance that stimulated an immune response without a need for the bee to be infected with a disease. Bees were offered the choice of blue and yellow artificial flowers only one type of which contained sugar water. An individual's flight was recorded over ninety visits to these flowers. Eventually the bees spent almost all of their time going to the rewarding flowers, but it took the immune stimulated bees longer to reach this point.

Dr Mallon added: "This work has two important applications. Firstly, there is a lot of interest in the connections between the immune system and the nervous system in human biology. The Mallon lab was the first to show that these interactions also exist in the much more experimentally tractable insects.

"Secondly, there is concern about both the decline in wild bumble-bee species and the effects of disease on the honeybee industry. It has been shown that learning is vitally important to how well a colony prospers. This effect of immunity on learning highlights a previously unconsidered effect of disease on colony success."

Future work will look at the basis of this neuro-immune interaction. Is it due to the immune system using up some resource required to form memories or is it due to the damaging effects of the immune response on the nervous system?

The research was conducted in the Department of Biology, in collaboration with the Department of Genetics, at the University of Leicester. The Leicester team consisted of A. Alghamdi, L. Dalton, A. Phillis, E. Rosato and E. B. Mallon


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Leicester. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Immune response impairs learning in free flying bumble-bees. Biology Letters, July 16, 2008

Cite This Page:

University of Leicester. "Bees Go 'Off-color' When They Are Sickly." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 July 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/07/080715204730.htm>.
University of Leicester. (2008, July 19). Bees Go 'Off-color' When They Are Sickly. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/07/080715204730.htm
University of Leicester. "Bees Go 'Off-color' When They Are Sickly." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/07/080715204730.htm (accessed October 24, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Friday, October 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Black Bear Cub Goes Sunday Shopping

Black Bear Cub Goes Sunday Shopping

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Oct. 23, 2014) Price check on honey? Bear cub startles Oregon drugstore shoppers. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dances With Wolves in China's Wild West

Dances With Wolves in China's Wild West

AFP (Oct. 23, 2014) One man is on a mission to boost the population of wolves in China's violence-wracked far west. The animal - symbol of the Uighur minority there - is under threat with a massive human resettlement program in the region. Duration: 00:41 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Breakfast Debate: To Eat Or Not To Eat?

Breakfast Debate: To Eat Or Not To Eat?

Newsy (Oct. 23, 2014) Conflicting studies published in the same week re-ignited the debate over whether we should be eating breakfast. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Weird-Looking Dinosaur Solves 50-Year-Old Mystery

Weird-Looking Dinosaur Solves 50-Year-Old Mystery

Newsy (Oct. 23, 2014) You've probably seen some weird-looking dinosaurs, but have you ever seen one this weird? It's worth a look. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins