That behemoth of knowledge, Scientific American has an ubercool new post on genetics: Honeybees (Apis mellifera) are more than cookie-cutter drones, workers, foragers and queens. They might have individual personality differences similar to our own, according to new research.
After studying hives—both in the wild and in the lab—and analyzing genetic and biochemical profiles of bees’ brains, researchers have found that some bees, like some humans, seem to be programmed to seek out new experiences, or novelty.
Forager bees are in charge of gathering food outside of the hive, but not all of these bees, it seems, are inclined to strike out and go exploring for new flowers. Only a subset of them – some five to 25 percent – actively scout out new pollen sources. The rest of the foragers simply follow these adventurers’ bee dances to find the food. A similar division happens when a group of bees set out in a swarm to start a new hive. In a swarm, less than five percent of foragers acted as nest scouts—independently searching for a suitable new home.
The researchers wanted to see if these scouting groups overlapped, which would indicate an underlying tendency of a subgroup of bees to seek out the new. And if some bees are striking out for novel finds in different circumstances, that, they argued, would be evidence that these bees have an essential “personality” difference from their fellow foragers. Read the full article »»»»
image source: zachary huang/beetography.com