Navigation Links
How bumblebees find efficient routes without a GPS
Date:9/20/2012

Scientists from Queen Mary, University of London have tracked bumblebees for the first time to see how they select the optimal route to collect nectar from multiple flowers and return to their nest.

In a paper published in PLOS Biology today (18 September), the scientists, working with the Harmonic Radar Group at Rothamsted Research, were able to use radar tracking to show how bumblebees discover flowers, learn their location and use trial and error to find the most efficient route between flowers over large distances.

Professor Lars Chittka and Dr Mathieu Lihoreau from Queen Mary's School of Biological and Chemical Sciences and colleagues set up five artificial flowers in a 1km diameter field. Each flower was fitted with motion-triggered webcams and had landing platforms with drops of sucrose in the middle*.

"Using mathematical models, we dissected bees' learning process and identified how they may decipher this optimal solution without a map. Initially, their routes were long and complex, revisiting empty flowers several times," Dr Lihoreau explained.

"But, as they gained experienced, the bees gradually refined their routes through trial and error. Each time a bee tried a new route it increased its probability of re-using the new route if it was shorter than the shortest route it had tried before. Otherwise the new route was abandoned and another was tested.

"After an average of 26 times each bee went foraging, which meant they tried about 20 of the 120 possible routes, they were able to select the most efficient path to visit the flowers, without computing all the possibilities."

Professor Chittka and colleagues have previously shown that bees were able to learn the shortest route possible to navigate between flowers in the lab but this is the first time they have been able to observe this behaviour in natural conditions and to describe how bees may optimise their routes.

"The speed at which they learn through trial and error is quite extraordinary for bumblebees as this complex behaviour was thought to be one which only larger-brained animals were capable of," Professor Chittka said.

"Interestingly, we also found that if we removed a flower, bees continued looking at that location even if it was empty for an extended period of time. It seems bees don't easily forget a fruitful flower."

The scientists used motion-triggered web cams and tiny bumblebee-mounted radar transponders to track the bumblebees. The recordings on the flowers showed that bees exhibited considerable individuality each one had a favoured arrival and departure direction, different from the other bees.

Head of Computational and Systems Biology at Rothamsted Research, Professor Chris Rawlings, added: "This is an exciting result because it shows that seemingly complex behaviours can be described by relatively simple rules which can be described mathematically.

"This means we can now use mathematics to inform us when bee behaviour might be affected by their environment and to assess, for example, the impact of changes in the landscape."


'/>"/>
Contact: Bridget Dempsey
b.dempsey@qmul.ac.uk
44-020-788-23004
Queen Mary, University of London
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Computer model pinpoints prime materials for efficient carbon capture
2. Surviving without ice
3. Survival without water: A key trait of an aquatic invader to spread
4. NPointer from Neurotechnology Uses Hand Gestures to Control and Navigate Computer Programs Without a Mouse or Touchpad
5. Production of chemicals without petroleum
6. Plant growth without light control
7. Feeding without the frenzy
8. How to make high-end perfumes without whale barf
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:10/4/2017)...  GCE Solutions, a global clinical research organization (CRO), announces the ... on October 4, 2017. Shadow is designed to assist medical writers ... 0070 of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) in meeting the requirements ... ... ...
(Date:6/30/2017)... 30, 2017 Today, American Trucking Associations ... of face and eye tracking software, became the ... program. "Artificial intelligence and advanced ... monitor a driver,s attentiveness levels while on the ... to detect fatigue and prevent potential accidents, which ...
(Date:5/16/2017)... TEANECK, N.J. , May 16, 2017  Veratad ... leading provider of online age and identity verification solutions, ... the K(NO)W Identity Conference 2017, May 15 thru May ... Ronald Regan Building and International Trade Center. ... across the globe and in today,s quickly evolving digital ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:10/11/2017)... ... , ... ComplianceOnline’s Medical Device Summit is back for its 4th year. The ... Francisco, CA. The Summit brings together current and former FDA office bearers, regulators, industry ... officials from around the world to address key issues in device compliance, quality and ...
(Date:10/11/2017)... ... October 11, 2017 , ... Disappearing forests and increased emissions are ... 5.5 million people each year. Especially those living in larger cities are affected by ... in one of the most pollution-affected countries globally - decided to take action. , ...
(Date:10/10/2017)... Los Angeles, CA (PRWEB) , ... ... ... Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a development-stage cancer-focused pharmaceutical company advancing targeted antibody-drug conjugate (ADC) ... all uses of targeted HPLN (Hybrid Polymerized Liposomal Nanoparticle), a technology developed ...
(Date:10/10/2017)... , Oct. 10, 2017 SomaGenics announced ... the NIH to develop RealSeq®-SC (Single Cell), expected to ... profiling small RNAs (including microRNAs) from single cells using ... highlights the need to accelerate development of approaches to ... "New techniques for measuring levels of ...
Breaking Biology Technology: