Smart single mother bees learn from their neighbors

phys.org | 1/29/2020 | Staff
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Solitary female bees inspect other nests for signs of danger before making decisions on where to build their own, a new London-based study suggests.

The study, led by researchers at Queen Mary University of London, found the clever bees looked for signs of parasite infection in other species' nests and used this information to select a safe place to bring up their own brood.

Research - Team - Nests - Parks - Grasslands

The research team set up artificial nests in parks and grasslands across South East England and London from 2016-2018 to study the behaviours of different species of solitary cavity-nesting mason bees.

The scientists also tested the ability for these species to notice other cues of parasite infection in the surrounding environment.

Bees - Observations - Symbols - Nests - Nests

They showed that solitary bees were surprisingly intelligent in their observations and were able to remember geometric symbols found next to parasitised nests, and avoid nests near these symbols in future breeding periods.

Dr. Olli Loukola, lead author and postdoctoral fellow at Queen Mary University of London and the University of Oulu, said: "It's amazing that solitary bees are able to use such a complex strategy in their nest-site decisions. It really requires a sophisticated cognitive flexibility and it is fascinating to uncover how much genius is found in these small-brained solitary bees.

Bees - Communities - Factors - Suitability - Predation

"Despite being solitary, these bees live in communities and can learn from each other. As environmental factors such as nesting suitability, predation and parasitism change both spatially...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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