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: Queen or worker? Flexibility between roles relies on just a few genes

Related Stories

Social bees mark dangerous flowers with chemical signals

March 14, 2013

Scientists already knew that some social bee species warn their conspecifics when detecting the presence of a predator near their hive, which in turn causes an attack response to the possible predator. Researchers at the ...

Genetic study offers insight into the social lives of bees

April 11, 2011

Most people have trouble telling them apart, but bumble bees, honey bees, stingless bees and solitary bees have home lives that are as different from one another as a monarch's palace is from a hippie commune or a hermit's ...

ASU scientists' research on honey bees featured in 'Science'

October 26, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Two Arizona State University researchers, Robert Page and Gro Amdam, are the subject of a feature article in the Oct. 25 issue of the journal Science, which traces their collaboration, discoveries and extensive ...

Recommended for you

Amazon deforestation leaps 16 percent in 2015

November 28, 2015

Illegal logging and clearing of Brazil's Amazon rainforest increased 16 percent in the last year, the government said, in a setback to the aim of stopping destruction of the world's greatest forest by 2030.

CERN collides heavy nuclei at new record high energy

November 25, 2015

The world's most powerful accelerator, the 27 km long Large Hadron Collider (LHC) operating at CERN in Geneva established collisions between lead nuclei, this morning, at the highest energies ever. The LHC has been colliding ...


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.