Karela Fry

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Blackawton bees

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These are the first two paras of a peer reviewed paper that appeared recently in Biology Letters, a journal of the Royal Society:

The creature in figure 1 is a buff-tailed bumble-bee (Bombus terrestris), a member of one of the most abundant bumble-bee species in Europe. It lives underground with its nest mates, often in the abandoned nest of a mouse and, while it spends much of its life foraging within 100–500 m of its nest [1] with occasional excursions further out, buff-tailed bumble-bees transported as far from their nest as 13 km can find their way home.

This bumble-bee is a social creature, sharing information about food sources with its nest mates by motor displays and chemical signals (pheromones). Its foraging behaviour is an endless series of visits to flowers, typically flowers of a single species as noted long ago: ‘On each expedition the bee does not fly from a flower of one kind to a flower of another, but flies from one violet, say, to another violet, and never meddles with another flower until it has got back to the hive … ’

The interesting thing about this paper is that it is written by a collaboration of 25 children, the oldest of whom was of age 10. The paper (available only by subscription, unfortunately) addresses an interesting issue.


Written by Arhopala Bazaloides

December 25, 2010 at 4:21 am

Posted in education, science

Tagged with , ,

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