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Radio frequency ID tags on honey bees reveal hive dynamics
Date:7/22/2014

has always been that these 'elite' individuals are in some way intrinsically better, that they were born that way," he said.

While it is well known that genetic differences underlie differences in many types of behavior, the new findings show that "sometimes it is important to give individuals a chance in a different situation to truly find out how different they are from each other," Robinson said.

Removal of the elite bees "was associated with an almost five-fold increase in activity level in previously low-activity foragers," the researchers wrote. The change occurred within 24 hours, Tenczar said. This demonstrates that other individuals within the hive also have the capacity to become elites when necessary, Robinson said.

"It is still possible that there truly are elite bees that have some differential abilities to work harder than others, but it's a larger group than first estimated," Robinson said. "Or it could be that all bees are capable of working at this level and there's some kind of colony-level regulation that has some of them working really, really hard, making many trips while others make fewer trips."

Perhaps the less-busy bees function as a kind of reserve force that can kick into high gear if something happens to the super-foragers, Robinson said.

"Our observation is that the colony bounces back to a situation where some bees are very active and some are less active," he said. "Why is that? We don't know. Do all bees have that capability? We still don't know."


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Contact: Diana Yates
diya@illinois.edu
217-333-5802
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Source:Eurekalert  

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