Halictid bees' social behavior studied

March 13, 2006

Cornell University scientists say the social behavior of many species of sweat bees evolved simultaneously during a period of global warming.

The study, the first to link social evolution to climate change, suggests the social evolution occurred much more recently than scientists thought -- 20 million to 22 million years ago -- compared with the social evolution of other insects more than 65 million years ago.

"We believe that climatic change was a critical factor in the evolution of social behavior in these bees," said Bryan Danforth, associate professor of entomology

Halictid, or sweat, bees are eusocial, he explained, which is a type of social behavior in which the animals have permanently sterile worker castes, among other traits. Eusocial animals include honey, bumble, carpenter and sweat bees, ants, termites, many wasps as well as certain kinds of shrimp and the naked mole rat.

Halictid bees are nicknamed sweat bees because they are attracted to the salts in human perspiration.

Danforth's study will appear in a forthcoming issue of the Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, Series B, Biological Sciences.

Copyright 2006 by United Press International

Explore further: Gene regulation underlies the evolution of social complexity in bees

Related Stories

Why we fell out of love with algorithms inspired by nature

June 3, 2015

While computers are poor at creativity, they are adept at crunching through vast numbers of solutions to modern problems where there are numerous complex variables at play. Take the question of finding the best delivery plan ...

Bumblebee genomes give insights into threats to pollinators

April 23, 2015

The first full genome sequences of two bumblebee species are published this week in the open access journal Genome Biology. They give insights into the genetic basis and evolution of important aspects of bumblebee biology ...

Social insects, your grandma and Darwin

January 13, 2015

Darwin was not a fan of social insects, or at least not of those you're likely to step on or be stung by. Some of these critters—notably ants and termites, and certain wasps, bees and aphids—exhibit a high degree of social ...

Recommended for you

Power grid forecasting tool reduces costly errors

July 30, 2015

Accurately forecasting future electricity needs is tricky, with sudden weather changes and other variables impacting projections minute by minute. Errors can have grave repercussions, from blackouts to high market costs. ...

Unusual red arcs spotted on icy Saturn moon Tethys

July 30, 2015

Like graffiti sprayed by an unknown artist, unexplained arc-shaped, reddish streaks are visible on the surface of Saturn's icy moon Tethys in new, enhanced-color images from NASA's Cassini spacecraft.

The sound of music, according to physicists

July 30, 2015

Joshua Bodon is sick of hearing "Somewhere Over the Rainbow." More specifically, he's sick of hearing one 25-second clip of the song repeated more than 550 times.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.