Buzzybodies! Single mothers inspect their neighbors’ nests for signs of parasitic infection

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Buzzybodies! Single bees track their neighbors’ nests for signs of parasitic infection to find the best location for their own larvae to hatch

  • The vast majority of wild bees are solitary species that have their own small nest.
  • Scientists found that bees evaluate the condition and fitness of several neighboring nests
  • When they saw a parasitic infection next to a signal, they remembered the link.
  • Then they avoided making a nest near the symbol they associated with the infection.

A recent study has revealed that solitary mother bees verify the status of neighboring nests before deciding where to build them.

They look for signs of parasitic infection in nearby nests and remember this information in a high-level mental process previously unknown in flying insects.

While bees and bumblebees live in vast colonies and produce honey with a queen, most species of bees live solitary lives.

They live alone and do not produce honey and rarely bite humans.

A study reveals that solitary mother bees verify the status of neighboring nests before deciding where to establish their own nest. Animals live alone and females build their own nests (stock)

A study reveals that solitary mother bees verify the status of neighboring nests before deciding where to establish their own nest. Animals live alone and females build their own nests (stock)

The study, led by researchers at Queen Mary University in London, involved the creation of artificial nests in parks and grasslands in England between 2016 and 2018.

The scientists labeled the nests with symbols to mark them as infected with a dangerous parasite.

Then, the bees avoided establishing a nest near the symbols in other places.

The researchers say this shows an impressive level of intellect to process and retain that information.

The study, led by researchers at Queen Mary University in London, involved the installation of artificial nests in parks and grasslands in England between 2016 and 2018. The scientists labeled the nests with symbols to mark them as infected with a dangerous parasite and observed how and where the bees established their own nests (stock)

The study, led by researchers at Queen Mary University in London, involved the installation of artificial nests in parks and grasslands in England between 2016 and 2018. The scientists labeled the nests with symbols to mark them as infected with a dangerous parasite and observed how and where the bees established their own nests (stock)

The study, led by researchers at Queen Mary University in London, involved the installation of artificial nests in parks and grasslands in England between 2016 and 2018. The scientists labeled the nests with symbols to mark them as infected with a dangerous parasite and observed how and where the bees established their own nests (stock)

Dr. Olli Loukola, lead author and postdoctoral fellow at Queen Mary University in London and the University of Oulu, said: “ It is surprising that solitary bees can use such a complex strategy in their nest decisions.

“ It really requires sophisticated cognitive flexibility and it is fascinating to discover how much genius is found in these lonely little brain bees.

‘Despite being lonely, these bees live in communities and can learn from each other.

WHAT ARE LONELY BEES?

Most wild bees are solitary varieties.

These animals lead different lives to their counterparts that live in hives, such as honey bees and bumblebees.

They do not produce honey and, therefore, do not have to defend it so violently.

Males often have no stingers and females only bite when handled roughly.

There are more than 200 species of solitary bees and 150 live in London.

“Since environmental factors such as nesting suitability, predation and parasitism change both spatially and over time, it makes sense that bees obtain information from their neighbors, even if they are not of the same species.”

Most of the research on bee behavior has focused on social bee species, but most wild bees are solitary varieties.

They are less aggressive than their hive counterparts, since they do not produce honey and, therefore, do not have to defend it so violently.

Males often have no stingers and females only bite when handled roughly.

Dr. Lars Chittka, a professor of sensory and behavioral ecology at Queen Mary University in London, said: ‘There are about 20,000 species of solitary bees in total and about 150 live here in London.

‘In these species, female individuals,’ single mothers’ build their own nests. Male bees never do any work.

“Our research suggests that, despite the fact that these females work largely alone, they can use signals in their environment and activities of other animals in their surroundings, to successfully protect their young.”

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