Honeybees, To Boldly Go Where No Bee Has Gone
by Helen Fields
Just like humans have astronauts and mountain climbers, honeybee societies have their own brave explorers: scouts, the bees that venture out to find new food sources. A new study examines scouts’ brains and finds that novelty-seeking in humans and bees seems to be based on some of the same genes.
In honeybee societies, scouts are the bold pioneers. “Most foragers wait to be told what to do, but not scouts,” says Gene Robinson, an entomologist and geneticist at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. “Scouts go out and search for food on their own.”
When a scout, which is always female in bees, finds food, she flies back to the colony, reports to her compatriots with the famous waggle dance, then flies off again, ignoring her new discovery to look somewhere else. Robinson and graduate student Zhengzheng Liang suspected that it might be possible to make comparisons between this behavior and novelty-seeking in humans and other vertebrates, which has been well studied…
(read more: Science NOW)
(images: L - Alex Wild/alexanderwild.com; R - Zachary Huang/beetography.com)