Social Bees Mark Dangerous Flowers With Chemical Signals

If you’ve ever upset a honey bee hive, you know that the bees you’ve upset will warn their buddies, and you’ll have a whole lot of bees coming after you. People have known about this warning system in social bees for, well, as long as people have been trying to get honey. Now, there is evidence that social bees also warn their buddies when a flower is dangerous.

Researchers from the University of Tours (France) and the Experimental Station of Arid Zones of Almeria (Spain) set up an experiment where bees who approached and landed on certain flowers were caught with pincers (to simulate a predator attack) and bees who approached and landed on other flowers were not caught. Social bees were much less likely to land on flowers where an attack had previously taken place, than to land on a flower where no attack had taken place.

Solitary bees showed no preference for attack or non-attack flowers.

Researchers said this supports the idea that the warning signals of bees arose from social interactions of bees.

Photo courtesy of:

http://calindragan.wordpress.com/2010/09/27/albine/

Sources:

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0003347212004708

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130314085103.htm#.UUIyBw-GLXc.facebook

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