Fast-learning bumblebees die sooner

Daily Mail

Fast-learning bees die sooner than their slower working co-workers, research has found. These fast-learning bees collected fewer resources for the colony than their less intelligent counterparts overall. The researchers suggest that this may be because the energy that intelligence requires takes away from limited resources, leaving smart bees with less energy to look for food than their less-intelligent co-workers. Dr Nigel Raine, a co-author of the study and professor in the school of environmental sciences at the University of Guelph, Canada, said: 'Ultimately, the results revealed that fast-learning bumblebees collected fewer resources for the colony over their foraging career. 'These findings provide the first evidence of a learning-associated cost in the wild.' 'Our results are surprising because we typically associate enhanced learning performance and cognitive ability with improved fitness, because it is considered beneficial to the survival of an individual or group,' said co-author Dr. Lisa Evans, with Plant and Food Research in New Zealand.


Beware of sleeping queen bees underfoot this spring!

Daily Mail

If you go down to the woods today, watch your step as you might accidentally tread on a sleepy queen bumblebee. New research has shown that, after hibernating through winter, bumblebee queens spend most of their time resting among dead leaves and grass rather than flying. Previously it was thought that the queen bees dispersed quickly in the spring to found new colonies. The new evidence suggests that instead they make short flights punctuated by long rest periods on the ground. Conserving energy in this way gives them a much longer range as they search for a new site to colonise.


Secretive Foragers Are Cashing in on a Mushroom Bonanza

U.S. News

Foraging may be an old-fashioned hobby, but it can now also bring serious money, thanks to Philadelphia's restaurant boom and to chefs who are embracing wild foods. Mushroom hunters -- ranging from amateurs like Bischoff who happen upon edible treasures practically in their own backyards to professionals who sometimes travel hundreds of miles in search of virgin territory -- are increasingly knocking on restaurant kitchen doors to turn their fungal finds into fast cash (or at least to barter for a free meal).


Polyethism in a colony of artificial ants

arXiv.org Artificial Intelligence

We explore self-organizing strategies for role assignment in a foraging task carried out by a colony of artificial agents. Our strategies are inspired by various mechanisms of division of labor (polyethism) observed in eusocial insects like ants, termites, or bees. Specifically we instantiate models of caste polyethism and age or temporal polyethism to evaluated the benefits to foraging in a dynamic environment. Our experiment is directly related to the exploration/exploitation trade of in machine learning.


Pesticide thiamethoxam could wipe out the bumblebee

Daily Mail

A controversial pesticide can potentially wipe out common bumblebee populations by preventing the formation of new colonies, research has shown. The neonicotinoid chemical thiamethoxam dramatically reduces egg-laying by queen bumblebees, say scientists. Predictions based on a mathematical model suggest this could result in the total collapse of local populations of the wild bees. A controversial pesticide could wipe out common bumblebee populations by preventing the formation of new colonies, research has shown. The new study exposed bombus terrestris bumblebee queens to thiamethoxam in spring, when the insects emerge from hibernation and prepare to lay their first eggs.