• Experts fitted a tiny aerial to to track their movements
  • The were just as good at searching for nectar when they were
  • They search their surroundings optimally in Lévy flight patterns – alternating between clusters of short steps interjected with longer steps

When you’re not feeling well, it can be difficult to focus at work.

But it appears that unlike humans, bees may be able to perform just as well, even if they are ill.

New research has shown that honeybees remain excellent searchers when they are sick, allowing them to continue working for the greater good of their hives.

 

Experts fitted a transponder - a tiny dipole aerial, much lighter than the nectar or pollen normally carried by the bee - to the thorax
Experts fitted a transponder – a tiny dipole aerial, much lighter than the nectar or pollen normally carried by the – to the thorax

 

Researchers from the University of Exeter and Queen Mary University in London used radar technology to track individual bees around the Cornwall countryside.

Their results showed that the bees remained nimble and travelled hundreds or even thousands of metres even when they had infections or viruses.

Honeybees tirelessly commute between rewarding flower patches and their hive using remarkable navigational skills that rely on distinct landmarks, such as trees or houses, which they very efficiently find and memorise on orientation flights.

The study involved 78 bees, some of which were unwell.

Experts fitted a transponder – a tiny aerial, much lighter than the nectar or pollen normally carried by the bee – to the thorax.

LÉVY SEARCH PATTERNS

The study shows that even very sick bees are still able to search their surroundings optimally in Lévy flight patterns.

Lévy search patterns are a natural mathematical pattern found across the animal kingdom, including in early human hunter-gathers, and describe certain movements like stalking for prey or searching for mates.

The pattern alternates between clusters of short steps interjected with longer steps in between, which allows the individual to efficiently comb through large surface areas.

New research has shown that honeybees remain excellent searchers when they are ill, allowing them to continue working for the greater good of their hives
New research has shown that honeybees remain excellent searchers when they are ill, allowing them to continue working for the greater good of their hives

 

Tracking each bee individually allowed them to pick up a radar signal from the transponder showing where and how it was flying.

Professor Juliet Osborne, co-author of the study, said: ‘We tracked the individual flying bees with a harmonic radar system.

‘This involves attaching a very lightweight aerial to their back but it doesn’t affect how fast they fly, or how much nectar they collect.

‘It is still the only method for getting these really detailed data on where the bee flies.’

Like humans, bees can fall ill and getting around during periods of sickness can become very challenging.

The study shows that even very sick bees are still able to search their surroundings optimally in Lévy flight patterns.

 

 

BEES CAN ‘TWERK’ TOO

abdomens contain up to nine overlapping segments that are similar to little armored plates.

The tough outer plates are connected by a flexible layer of cells, called the ‘folded intersegmental membrane (FIM).

the membranes along the top of the abdomen were double the thickness of the membranes at the bottom.

This asymmetry allows the segments to stretch on the top, and contract at the bottom, resulting in curling in just one direction.

 

Lévy search patterns are a natural mathematical pattern found across the animal kingdom, including in early human hunter-gathers, and describe certain movements like stalking for prey or searching for mates.

The pattern alternates between clusters of short steps interjected with longer steps in between, which allows the individual to efficiently comb through large surface areas.

Dr Stephan Wolf, lead author of the study, said: ‘The honeybees had remarkably robust searching abilities, which indicate this might be hardwired in the bees rather than learned, making bees strong enough to withstand pathogens and possibly other stressors, and allowing them to still contribute to their colony by for example, foraging for food.’

 

Curated from – dailymail.co.uk

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