Honeybees may have evolved to be ‘cleverer’ in the morning

August 8th, 2010 - 3:07 pm ICT by ANI  

London, Aug 08 (ANI): A new study has found that honeybees are cleverer in the morning.

The study found that the earliest rising bees catch the best flower and ultimately the best meal and they are also better at learning new odours.

This early brainpower may have evolved to help the insects sniff out flowering plants and forage for nectar more efficiently.

Previous studies showed that most flowers accumulate their nectar during the morning, so this would be the period during which learning many new odours would be most useful to the bees.

The process of memorizing the new odours released by flowers is very energy-intensive for the bees’ brains, so being a little less clever later in the day could help the insects to conserve that energy, reports The BBC.

Scientists captured 1,000 forager honeybees (Apis mellifera) and trained groups of the insects at different times of the day to associate a new odour with a food reward.

The team, led by Professor Giovanni Galizia from the University of Konstanz in Germany, could then test each bee to see if it responded correctly to the odour.

The correct response to a smell was for the bee to extend its proboscis - the long appendage many pollinating insects use to draw nectar from flowers.

“It might be evolutionarily advantageous to be the early bee and to catch the flower in order to out-compete possible competitors such as butterflies, flies and bees from other hives,” the researchers said.

The study was published in the journal Behavioural Ecology and Sociobiology. (ANI)

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