bees, honey and other sticky subjects

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

The been and gone scent

I've just come across a researcher not a million miles from here with two (OK, just one) interesting research areas: the behaviour and ecology of bumblebees, and the control of houseflies around landfill sites.

Dr Dave Goulson
at Southampton University is speciallly interested in sustaining the population of bumble bees and in studying their foraging habits.
One interesting discovery has been the importance of volatile scent marks (deposited during flower visits) which enable foragers to avoid flowers that have recently been emptied of rewards. This behaviour appears to be widespread across bee species, but has previously been largely overlooked. We have identified the compounds used in bumblebees (which vary between species), and shown that they work across species. I am currently examining various aspects of this behaviour, particularly the role of these marks in mediating interspecific interactions.
Och Dave, you were communicating so well there until those last three words!


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