Thursday, February 5, 2009

Bees - Secret of perfect social organization

To many of you bees are mostly connected with honey. If we want to further meet the bee family we could start with their close relatives wasps and ants. There are somewhere about 20,000 known bee species. Their habitats are spreading across all continents, except the cold Antarctica. It is important to mention that only few bee species are capable to produce honey, most famous of them is the European Honey bee.

Many of you already know that bees are extremely socially organized animals as each of them plays specialized abut important role in their own bee colony. But scientists still haven't provided us with an answer "what is secret of their perfect social organization"? However latest research carried out by Researchers at the Centre de recherches sur la cognition animale (CRCA) (CNRS/ Université de Toulouse did come up with some rather interesting results.

Bees are extremely socially organized animals where each bee plays perfectly its specialized role and this is the secret of their perfect social organization

The key feature in bee social organization is distribution of labor and French scientists discovered how distribution of labor is a result of the existence of insects specialized in aversive and appetitive responses to stimulant. This so far doesn't sound to clear so I'll provide you with an example. What French scientists did was testing the response of hundreds of bees to sugar and to a low-voltage electric shock. The result of this was that some bees responded preferentially and innately to positive stimulant sugar (food), while others responded more to aversive stimuli such as electric shock. What was even more interesting was the fact that bees that responded actively to sugar didn't necessarily respond to electric shock, and vice versa.

This result implies that specialized roles are the key component that hold bee social structure in bee colonies. Some bees are more into learning problems associated with food rewards, and other give more attention to problems associated with punishments, thus reinforcing the division of labor within the colony. This looks to be a secret of perfect social organization in bee colonies, and each bee knows their own role and sticks with it mastering it to perfection. This maybe sounds doll from our point of view but in the bee world perfection can be only accomplished with role specialization.