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You are here: News & Events On the Research Front
Contains news items that are useful to beekeepers, bee research workers, honey processors, packers and others in the beekeeping industry

Genetic Basis of Eusociality in Bees

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Chennai, April 21, 2011: Researchers from the University of Illinois, Urbana and the Cornell University, Ithaca, USA have recently examined patterns of molecular evolution across the groups of eusocial and non-eusocial bees in order to understand the genetic changes involved in the evolution of eusociality. Their paper on the subject is published* in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA. Following is the news dated April 11, 2011 on the research reported in the University of Illinois News Bureau.

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Research on Bees by British Primay School Children Published in Royal Society Biological Letters

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Chennai, December 24, 2010 (Thanks to Bhaskar S. Manda for the news alert): A group (25 to be exact) of children aged between 8 and 10, from Blackawton Primary School in Devon, UK are now authors of a scientific paper published in a peer-reviewed journal of the Royal Society, Biological Letters.

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Impaired Waggle Dance Shown by Sleep-deprived Forager Bees

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Chennai, December 20, 2010: Insomnia or sleeplessness is experienced by all of us at one time or the other. It is typically followed by functional impairment while awake, like emotional or mental tension, anxiety, depression, and work problems. "Sleep is essential for basic survival, and insufficient sleep leads to a variety of dysfunctions. In humans, one of the most profound consequences of sleep deprivation is imprecise or irrational communication, demonstrated by degradation in signaling as well as in receiving information," say Barrett Klein and his team of researchers in their paper1, published online on December 14, 2010 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA on how sleep deprivation impairs waggle dance signaling in forager honey bees. While honey bees do have different periods of sleep, the effect of sleep or lack of it on their biology and behavior has so far been poorly understood. The latest research on this aspect conducted at the University of Texas shows that forager bees are affected by insomnia more or less as humans do. Following is the news about this research, released by the University of Texas News dated December 13, 2010.

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Floral Reflectance Database Now Available on Web

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Chennai, December 11, 2010: Flower colours are important for studies on floral bilology and pollination ecology. However we as human beings make assessments on the behaviour of pollinators based on our observation of flower colours and perception. Bees and other pollinators see flower colours differently to what humans perceive. In order to assist studies on these important fields of pollination research, scientists from Queen Mary University of London, Imperial College London and Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew developed a database for flower colour. This database - Floral Reflectance Database (FReD) - is freely searchable and is available on the Web (see here). The development of the database and its utility are explained in a paper published in the journal PLoS ONE1. Information on this given in the Public Release dated December 10, 2010 by EurekAlert is reproduced below.

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Big Brains of Social Insects Evolved Due to Parasitism in Their Ancestors

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Chennai, November 14, 2010: Large brains in animals are generally associated with behaviourally flexible and innovative functions. Such brains have large mushroom bodies which process visual and other information. Social life is often considered the main force behind the evolution of large brains. In order to find out if this is so in the highly evolved ant, bee and wasp groups, Sarah Farris, a neurobiologist at the Department of Biology, West Virginia University, who is engaged in the study of development and evolution of brain and behaviour, and Susanne Schulmeister, taxonomist at the American Museum of Natural History, New York City, recently made a comparative analysis of the mushroom bodies of various aculeate hymenoptera including parasitic and non-parasitic wasps. The researchers found that the mushroom bodies of social wasps and of solitary wasps do not differ much in size or general structure, save for 'only relatively minor modifications'.

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