Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Smells Like Bees' Spirit: Response To Pheromone Changes According To Situation

Date:
August 13, 2008
Source:
Queen Mary, University of London
Summary:
When bumblebees return to the nest from a successful foraging mission, they produce a pheromone which encourages their nest mates to also go out and find food. Scientists had originally thought that these pheromones elicited a standard response from all bees. But new research from Queen Mary's School of Biological and Chemical Sciences has shown that bees' response to the pheromone changes according to their situation.

RFID tagged bumblebees in their nest.
Credit: Image courtesy of Queen Mary, University of London

Bumblebees choose whether to search for food according to how stocked their nests are, say scientists from Queen Mary, University of London.

Related Articles


When bumblebees return to the nest from a successful foraging mission, they produce a pheromone which encourages their nest mates to also go out and find food. Scientists had originally thought that these pheromones elicited a standard response from all bees. But new research from Queen Mary’s School of Biological and Chemical Sciences has shown that bees’ response to the pheromone changes according to their situation.

Dr Mathieu Molet and Dr Nigel Raine have shown that worker bees are much more likely to respond to the pheromone and leave the nest in search of food, if the colony has little or no food reserves left.

“Flying around all day to find nectar and pollen from flowers is hard work. So it makes sense that bees are more likely to respond to the pheromone when honey reserves are low,” said Dr Molet.

Writing in the journal Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, the Natural Environment Research Council funded team explain how they used radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology (the same electronic tagging system used in a London Underground oyster card) to automatically record the activity of bees in the lab.

Different colonies of bumblebees (Bombus terrestris) were stocked with different levels of food reserves (honeypots). Artificial foraging pheromones were applied to the bees, and they were monitored over 16,000 ‘foraging bouts’. The response to the pheromones was stronger in colonies with less food - with more worker bees becoming active, and more foraging bouts being performed.

The team’s findings suggest that the pheromone can modulate a bumblebee’s foraging activity - preventing needless energy expenditure and exposure to risk when food stores are already high. In future, such artificial pheromones could also be used to increase the effectiveness of bumblebee colonies pollinating commercial crops, such as tomatoes.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Molet et al. Colony nutritional status modulates worker responses to foraging recruitment pheromone in the bumblebee Bombus terrestris
. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 2008; DOI: 10.1007/s00265-008-0623-3

Cite This Page:

Queen Mary, University of London. "Smells Like Bees' Spirit: Response To Pheromone Changes According To Situation." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 August 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/08/080813114229.htm>.
Queen Mary, University of London. (2008, August 13). Smells Like Bees' Spirit: Response To Pheromone Changes According To Situation. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 26, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/08/080813114229.htm
Queen Mary, University of London. "Smells Like Bees' Spirit: Response To Pheromone Changes According To Situation." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/08/080813114229.htm (accessed November 26, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

From Popcorn To Vending Snacks: FDA Ups Calorie Count Rules

From Popcorn To Vending Snacks: FDA Ups Calorie Count Rules

Newsy (Nov. 25, 2014) The US FDA is announcing new calorie rules on Tuesday that will require everywhere from theaters to vending machines to include calorie counts. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Feast Your Eyes: Lamb Chop Sent Into Space from UK

Feast Your Eyes: Lamb Chop Sent Into Space from UK

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Nov. 25, 2014) Take a stab at this -- stunt video shows a lamb chop's journey from an east London restaurant over 30 kilometers into space. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Cambodian Capital's Only Working Elephant to Retire in Jungle

Cambodian Capital's Only Working Elephant to Retire in Jungle

AFP (Nov. 25, 2014) Phnom Penh's only working elephant was blessed by a crowd of chanting Buddhist monks Tuesday as she prepared for a life of comfortable jungle retirement after three decades of giving rides to tourists. Duration: 00:36 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Stray Dog Follows Adventure Racing Team for 6-Day Endurance Race

Stray Dog Follows Adventure Racing Team for 6-Day Endurance Race

Buzz60 (Nov. 24, 2014) A Swedish Adventure racing team travels to try and win a world title, but comes home with something way better: a stray dog that joined the team for much of the grueling 430-mile race. Jen Markham has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
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