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Uploaded on Aug 18, 2010
Tricking honey bees into thinking they have traveled long distance to find food alters gene expression in their brains, researchers report this month. Their study, in the journal Genes, Brain and Behavior, is the first to identify distance-responsive genes.
Foraging honey bees make unique research animals in part because they communicate in a language humans can decode, says Univ. of Illinois professor Gene Robinson, who led the study.
After a successful hunt, a forager performs a highly stylized "dance" that tells her peers what direction to go to find the food, how good it is and how far away it is. The bee does a "round dance" if the food is close to home, while a "waggle dance" indicates it is farther away.
The new study used an established method for altering a honey bee's perception of distance as she flew through a tunnel to gather food.