Bumblebee Code!

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Photo and text by Gloria Z. Nagler 

When I processed this photo of a bumblebee (found her in my neighbor’s tree) first thing I noticed were her feet — had to see what the internet had to say!

Turns out her feet are in the news: last Spring Dr. Richard Pearce (University of Bristol) and his colleagues published their research in “Scientific Reports” explaining that bumblebees’ smelly feet constitute a code that, among other things, helps lead others to lunch.

The scientists' experiments showed that the bees leave a scent wherever their feet touch a surface, and that other bees can distinguish their own nest mates from stranger bees, and their own scent from their sister bees’ scents.

Perhaps in this way they “tell” other bees which flowers they’ve found visit-worthy, and also can use the code to avoid flowers they’ve already visited. Just another reason to be amazed by our bees:)


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