Halictid bees' social behavior studied

Mar 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: Dinosaur-times cockroach caught in amber, from Myanmar

Related Stories

Social insects, your grandma and Darwin

Jan 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 ...

Bees from the inside out

Jul 08, 2014

It is 1,825 miles from New Haven, Conn., to Austin, Tex., which typically means 30 hours of driving and three nights in motels, not an easy trip for anyone. But for researchers moving from Yale University ...

Honeybees show tipping points

May 16, 2014

Parasites, lack of food, cold snaps, pesticides, and poor management all can stress honeybee colonies, making it difficult to pin their collapse on a single source. However, in controlled field tests, honeybee ...

Recommended for you

Challenges medical relief teams face after disaster

5 hours ago

As medical relief teams from Nepal and the rest of the world work to distribute supplies and care for survivors, it's worth understanding how health workers handle extreme emergency situations.

Dinosaur-times cockroach caught in amber, from Myanmar

May 01, 2015

Geologica Carpathica has a paper on a new family of predatory cockroaches. Predatory? The authors, Peter Vrsansky and Günter Bechly, from the Slovak Republic and Germany, respectively, said that "unique adapta ...

User comments : 0

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.