Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Artificial Meadows And Robot Spiders Reveal Secret Life Of Bees

Date:
September 7, 2008
Source:
Queen Mary, University of London
Summary:
Many animals learn to avoid being eaten by predators. Now ecologists have discovered that bumblebees can even learn to outwit color-changing crab spiders. Bumblebees learn to avoid camouflaged predators by sacrificing foraging speed for predator detection, according to new research.

Spider attacking a foraging bumblebee. Bumblebees can even learn to outwit colour-changing crab spiders.
Credit: Image courtesy of Queen Mary, University of London

Many animals learn to avoid being eaten by predators. Now ecologists have discovered that bumblebees can even learn to outwit colour-changing crab spiders.

Related Articles


Bumblebees learn to avoid camouflaged predators by sacrificing foraging speed for predator detection, according to scientists from Queen Mary, University of London.

One of the bumblebee's main predators is the crab spider. Crab spiders hunt pollinating insects like bees and butterflies by lying in wait on flowers, and are particularly difficult for their prey to spot because they can change their colour to blend in with their surroundings.

Dr Tom Ings and Professor Lars Chittka from Queen Mary's School of Biological and Chemical Sciences wanted to discover whether bumblebees could learn to avoid these crab spiders. Their study, funded by the NERC and published in the journal Current Biology, shows how a run in with a spider affected the bees' foraging patterns.

Dr Ings and his team allowed a colony of bumblebees (Bombus terrestris) to forage in a meadow of artificial flowers in a 'flight arena' which contained 'robotic' crab spiders. Some of the spiders were well hidden, others were highly visible. Whenever a bee landed on a flower which contained a robot spider, the spider 'caught' the bee by trapping it briefly between two foam pincers, before then setting it free to continue foraging.

The team used 3D tracking software to follow the bees' movements, and found that the bees which were caught by a camouflaged spider slowed down their subsequent inspection flights. Although they lost valuable foraging time by slowing down, they were more likely to accurately detect whether there was a hidden crab spider present.

In addition, the bees which had already been caught a few times the day before by the hidden spiders behaved as if they saw spiders where there were none i.e. they rejected foraging opportunities on safe flowers, 'just in case' and were more wary than bees which had been caught by the more conspicuous spiders.

Dr Ings commented: "Surprisingly, our findings suggest that there is no apparent benefit to the spider in being camouflaged, at least in terms of prey capture rates. Spider camouflage didn't increase the chances of a bumblebee being captured, or reduce the rate at which the bees learnt to avoid predators. But our results did show that the bees which encountered camouflaged spiders were worse off in terms of reduced foraging efficiency."

Dr Ings will present his full findings on 3 September 2008 to the British Ecological Society’s Annual Meeting at Imperial College, London.


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.


Cite This Page:

Queen Mary, University of London. "Artificial Meadows And Robot Spiders Reveal Secret Life Of Bees." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 September 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/09/080902225431.htm>.
Queen Mary, University of London. (2008, September 7). Artificial Meadows And Robot Spiders Reveal Secret Life Of Bees. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 19, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/09/080902225431.htm
Queen Mary, University of London. "Artificial Meadows And Robot Spiders Reveal Secret Life Of Bees." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/09/080902225431.htm (accessed April 19, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Un-Bee-Lievable: Bees on the Loose After Washington Truck Crash

Un-Bee-Lievable: Bees on the Loose After Washington Truck Crash

Reuters - US Online Video (Apr. 17, 2015) A truck carrying honey bees overturns near Lynnwood, Washington, spreading boxes of live bees across the highway. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Our Love Of Puppy Dog Eyes Explained By Science

Our Love Of Puppy Dog Eyes Explained By Science

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2015) Researchers found a spike in oxytocin occurs in both humans and dogs when they gaze into each other&apos;s eyes. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dog Flu Spreading in Midwestern States

Dog Flu Spreading in Midwestern States

AP (Apr. 17, 2015) Dog flu is spreading in several Midwestern states. Dog daycare centers and veterinary offices are taking precautions. (April 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Rare Whale Spotted in Gulf of Mexico

Raw: Rare Whale Spotted in Gulf of Mexico

AP (Apr. 17, 2015) Researchers from the E/V Nautilus had quite a surprise Tuesday, when a curious sperm whale swam around their remotely operated vehicle in the Gulf of Mexico. Cameras captured the encounter. (April 17) Video provided by AP
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