Sunday, December 09, 2007

When testing a predication, false assumptions can render results invalid. It is necessary to scientifically determine the answers to questions whose results may have seemed inherent. Fortunately, this provides an opportunity to increase awareness of an ongoing study or phenomenon that is worth note. While this paper was primarily concerned with the affect of a "brood" hormone on the rate of return of foragers, it shed light on a wealth of literature describing how the colony successfully coordinates more than 10,000 individuals.

I stumbled across an article published earlier this year about a proximate mechanism that controls the amount of pollen foraged by individuals based on the colony need (Pankiw, 2007). This was a simple study that showed how an easy manipulation of hormone levels within the colony affected how fast a forager would return from a trip. Additional brood hormone, that would normally be present in the food given to developing larvae, was given to the colony. It was already known that the number of larvae developing affects the number of colony members that forage so that when the demand for pollen increases, the amount of pollen foraged increases to meet demand. In this study, the hormone was added to colonies in liquid form on glass slides that were placed inside. The response of foragers was measured by recording departures and arrival of individuals through a Plexiglas-covered runway affixed to the entrance of the hive. Other affects of this "brood" pheromone had already been determined,discussed and published in a series of other works.

Involved in studying bee pathogens myself, I am always fascinated by what we know about their life history. Honey bees are so important in our lives that we dedicate significant resources towards gaining understanding of their behaviors and life history.

posted by: Morkeski (11)


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