Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Do you have a sweet tooth? Honeybees have a sweet claw

Date:
February 4, 2014
Source:
Frontiers
Summary:
New research on the ability of honeybees to taste with claws on their forelegs reveals details on how this information is processed, according to a new study.

This photo shows a honeybee claw under an electron microscope.
Credit: de Brito Sanchez et al. / Frontiers in Neuroscience

New research on the ability of honeybees to taste with claws on their forelegs reveals details on how this information is processed, according to a study published in the open-access journal, Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience.

Related Articles


Insects taste through sensilla, hair-like structures on the body that contain receptor nerve cells, each of which is sensitive to a particular substance. In many insects, for example the honeybee, sensilla are found on the mouthparts, antenna and the tarsi -- the end part of the legs. Honeybees weigh information from both front tarsi to decide whether to feed, finds the latest study led by Dr. Gabriela de Brito Sanchez, researcher, University of Toulouse, and Dr. Martin Giurfa, Director of the Research Centre on Animal Cognition, University of Toulouse, France.

Hundreds of honeybees were included in the study. Sugary, bitter and salty solutions were applied to the tarsi of the forelegs to test if this stimulated the bees to extend or retract their tongue -- reflex actions that indicate whether or not they like the taste and are preparing to drink. Results revealed that honeybee tarsi are highly sensitive to sugar: even dilute sucrose solutions prompted the bees to extend their tongue. Measurements of nerve cell activity showed that the part of the honeybee tarsus most sensitive to sugary tastes is the double claw at its end. Also, the segments of the tarsus before the claws, known as the tarsomeres, were found to be highly sensitive to saline solutions.

"Honeybees rely on their color vision, memory, and sense of smell and taste to find nectar and pollen in the ever-changing environment around the colony," says Dr. Giurfa. "The high sensitivity to salts of the tarsomeres and to sugar of the tarsal claws is impressive given that each tarsus has fewer sensilla than the other sense organs. The claw's sense of taste allows workers to detect nectar immediately when they land on flowers. Also, bees hovering over water ponds can promptly detect the presence of salts in water through the tarsomeres of their hanging legs."

But what if honeybees receive contradictory information, for example, about tasty sucrose from the right foreleg, but about water or distasteful caffeine from the left? The central nervous system of honeybees weighs this information from both sides, but unequally: input from the side that is first to taste something tasty or distasteful counts for more. For example, if a bee first tasted sucrose on one side, she would typically extend her tongue and subsequently ignore less attractive tastes on the other. But if the order was reversed, she was around 50% less likely than normally to extend her tongue for sucrose.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Maria Gabriela De Brito Sanchez, Esther Lorenzo, Su Songkung, Fanglin Liu, Yi Zhan and Martin Giurfa. The tarsal taste of honey bees: behavioral and electrophysiological analyses. Front. Behav. Neurosci., 2014 DOI: 10.3389/fnbeh.2014.00025

Cite This Page:

Frontiers. "Do you have a sweet tooth? Honeybees have a sweet claw." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 February 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140204162256.htm>.
Frontiers. (2014, February 4). Do you have a sweet tooth? Honeybees have a sweet claw. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140204162256.htm
Frontiers. "Do you have a sweet tooth? Honeybees have a sweet claw." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140204162256.htm (accessed October 31, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Friday, October 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

How A Chorus Led Scientists To A New Frog Species

How A Chorus Led Scientists To A New Frog Species

Newsy (Oct. 30, 2014) A frog noticed by a conservationist on New York's Staten Island has been confirmed as a new species after extensive study and genetic testing. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Surfer Accidentally Stands on Shark, Gets Bitten

Surfer Accidentally Stands on Shark, Gets Bitten

AP (Oct. 30, 2014) A 20-year-old competition surfer said on Thursday he accidentally stepped on a shark's head before it bit him off the Australian east coast. (Oct. 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Inflicts Heavy Toll on Guinean Potato Trade

Ebola Inflicts Heavy Toll on Guinean Potato Trade

AFP (Oct. 30, 2014) The Ebola epidemic has seen Senegal and Guinea Bissau close its borders with Guinea and the economic consequences have started to be felt, especially in Fouta Djallon, where the renowned potato industry has been hit hard. Duration: 02:01 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Genetically Altered Glowing Flower on Display in Tokyo

Genetically Altered Glowing Flower on Display in Tokyo

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 30, 2014) Just in time for Halloween, a glowing flower goes on display in Tokyo. Instead of sorcery and magic, its creators used science to genetically modify the flower, adding a naturally fluorescent plankton protein to its genetic mix. Ben Gruber reports. Video provided by Reuters
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