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Scientists at Queen Mary University of London have discovered a never before reported behaviour of queen bumblebees.
It was long thought that queen bumblebees, after hibernating in the ground over winter, emerged, began feeding and dispersed quite quickly to found their new colony.
Research - Hibernation - Bumblebees - Majority - Time
But new research shows that directly after hibernation, queen bumblebees spend the majority of their time hiding and resting amongst dead leaves and grass.
The study, published in the journal Scientific Reports, suggests that this behaviour of long rests with short intermittent flights explains how queen bumblebees find themselves far away from their natal nest.
Dr - James - Makinson - Study - Queen
Dr. James Makinson, who co-led the study at Queen Mary University of London but is now based at Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment at Western Sydney University, said: "We wanted to see what queens actually do right after they emerge. By combining state-of-the-art tracking technology with wild bee observations, we were able to uncover a never before seen behavior of queen bumblebees."
The researchers placed small antenna on the backs of queens that had just emerged from artificially induced hibernation. At an outdoor field site, radar was used to track the bees via the antennae as they woke up and left the area.
Data - Queens - Time - Ground - Minutes
The data showed that the queens were spending most of their time on the ground (between 10-20 minutes on average) and making short flights (10-20 seconds on average) in nearly random directions. Observations of wild queen bumblebees verified this was not due to the antennas but rather natural behaviour of recently emerged queens. Computer modelling also showed that this behaviour can explain how bees end up many kilometres from the hibernation...
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