Navigation Links
Bee swarms follow high-speed 'streaker' bees to find a new nest
Date:10/2/2008

It's one of the hallmarks of spring: a swarm of bees on the move. But how a swarm locates a new nest site when less than 5% of the community know the way remains a mystery. Curious to find out how swarms cooperate and are guided to their new homes, Tom Seeley, a neurobiologist from Cornell University, and engineers Kevin Schultz and Kevin Passino from The Ohio State University teamed up to find out how swarms are guided to their new home and publish their findings on October 3rd 2008 in The Journal of Experimental Biology, http://jeb.biologists.org.

According to Schultz there are two theories on how swarms find the way. In the 'subtle guide' theory, a small number of scout bees, which had been involved in selecting the new nest site, guide the swarm by flying unobtrusively in its midst; near neighbours adjust their flight path to avoid colliding with the guides while more distant insects align themselves to the guides' general direction. In the 'streaker bee' hypothesis, bees follow a few conspicuous guides that fly through the top half of the swarm at high speed.

Schultz explains that Seeley already had still photographs of the streaks left by high-speed bees flying through a swarm's upper layers, but what Seeley needed was movie footage of a swarm on the move to see if the swarm was following high-velocity streakers or being unobtrusively directed by guides. Passino and Seeley decided to film swarming bees with high-definition movie cameras to find out how they were directed to their final destination.

But filming diffuse swarms spread along a 12m length with each individual on her own apparently random course is easier said than done. For a start you have to locate your camera somewhere along the swarm's flight path, which is impossible to predict in most environments. The team overcame this problem by relocating to Appledore Island, which has virtually no high vegetation for swarms to settle on. By transporting large colonies of bees, complete with queen, to the island, the team could get the insects to swarm from a stake to the only available nesting site; a comfortable nesting box. Situating the camera on the most direct route between the two sites, the team successfully filmed several swarms' chaotic progress at high resolution.

Back in Passino's Ohio lab, Schultz began the painstaking task of analysing over 3500 frames from a swarm fly-by to build up a picture of the insects' flight directions and vertical position. After months of bee-clicking, Schultz was able to find patterns in the insects' progress. For example, bees in the top of the swarm tended to fly faster and generally aimed towards the nest, with bees concentrated in the middle third of the top layer showing the strongest preference to head towards the nest. Schultz also admits that he was surprised at how random the bees' trajectories were in the bottom half of the swarm, 'they were going in every direction,' he says, but the bees that were flying towards the new nest generally flew faster than bees that were heading in other directions; they appeared to latch onto the high-speed streakers. All of which suggests that the swarm was following high-speed streaker bees to their new location.


'/>"/>

Contact: Kathryn Phillips
kathryn@biologists.com
44-012-234-25525
The Company of Biologists
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Ecologist finds dire devastation of snake species following floods of 93, 95
2. LSU professor studies army-ant-following birds
3. Researchers take first steps towards spinal cord reconstruction following injury
4. BIO-key(R) and Tiger IT Awarded a Follow-on Contract for Nationwide Voter / Citizen Registration in Bangladesh
5. MNI researchers locate neurological basis of depression following sports concussion
6. Ants and avalanches: Insects on coffee plants follow widespread natural tendency
7. Wandering albatrosses follow their nose
8. When following the leader can lead into the jaws of death
9. Following traumatic brain injury, balanced nutrition saves lives
10. Researchers block damage to fetal brain following maternal alcohol consumption
11. NSF awards Williams funding for high-speed imaging faciltity
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:2/2/2016)... Feb. 2, 2016  BioMEMS devices deployed ... focused on medical screening and diagnostic applications, ... Wearable devices that facilitate and assure continuous ... movement are being bolstered through new opportunities ... signal acquisition coupled with wireless connectivity and ...
(Date:2/2/2016)... , Feb. 2, 2016 Technology Enhancements Accelerate ... an analysis of the digital and computed radiography markets ... , and Indonesia (TIM). ... and market size, as well as regional market drivers ... and discusses market penetration and market attractiveness, both for ...
(Date:2/1/2016)... Rising sales of consumer electronics ... intuitive gesture control market size ... consumer electronics coupled with new technological advancements to drive ... through 2020   --> ... advancements to drive global touchfree intuitive gesture control market ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:2/8/2016)... ... February 08, 2016 , ... Information Management Services ( ... The upgrade represents a completely new technical foundation and is so significant it ... responsive design interface, significantly increased speed for search results, a streamlined layout and a ...
(Date:2/8/2016)... -- Diplomat Pharmacy, Inc. (NYSE: DPLO) announced today that its new website has gone live. On Thursday, ... mobile-friendly. Visit the new site: www.diplomat.is ... ... ... "The goal was to reimagine the website and create ...
(Date:2/5/2016)... , Feb. 5, 2016  In the pharmaceutical industry ... a host of launch activities including the identification and ... launch activity is especially high in the oncology therapeutic ... Best Practices and the Role of Medical Affairs in ... focused on oncology therapies find better ways to utilize ...
(Date:2/4/2016)... - New FDA action date of July ... action date of July 22, 2016   --> ... 22, 2016   - Lifitegrast has the ... for the treatment of signs and symptoms of dry eye disease ... to be the only product approved in the U.S. in the past decade indicated for ...
Breaking Biology Technology: