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Honeybee Roundup

January 9, 2009

A buzzed bee’s bungled behavior.


Bees on cocaine. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.
Australian scientists are looking at how cocaine affects honeybees to find clues into how the drug works. They’ve found when high honeybees scout for nectar and report back to the hive, they exaggerate wildly to the other bees about the quality of the nectar they’ve found. When the drug wears off, the bees are listless and unable to learn new tasks. Currently, the researchers are studying the neural pathways that are affected by the drug to learn more about how it works in humans.

In other honeybee news, German researchers have found that honeybees protect plants from hungry caterpillars. The caterpillars mistake the buzzing of the bees for that of caterpillar-eating wasps. The more buzzing, the more the caterpillars retreat. That could lead to new ways to control caterpillars without chemicals. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the Science Society.