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Archive
 

May 2004: Volume 1, Number 2
   

TRITON TIDBITS FROM CAMPUS AND BEYOND

January 2005
So What's the Buzz!

 
     

They are the James Bonds of the insect world. Bees not only spy on each other, but some conceal their communications to confound the spies.

Bees have two main ways to tell their hive where to find food: abstract representations such as sounds or dances within the hive itself or scent markings outside.

James Nieh, an assistant professor of biology at UCSD, has hypothesized that communication inside the hive may have evolved as a way of avoiding espionage by competitors. His group of researchers studied the interactions of two species of sting-less bees prevalent in South and Central America. One species is aggressive and the other
is more mellow.

Nieh found that the aggressive bees were able to pinpoint a food source by following odor marks deposited by the other species and then stealing the food. In reaction to this spying, Nieh believes that other sting-less bees evolved sounds and dances within the hive to keep information about food sources secret.

“The ability of foragers to communicate food locations within the confines of the hive, where other bees cannot eavesdrop, would be a clear evolutionary advantage,” says Nieh. So is that a buzz we hear or a shhh!

 

RELATED LINKS

Espionage?
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Meet The Scientist
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"The ability of foragers to communicate food locations...would be a clear evolutionary advantage."