British biologists have uncovered the secrets of navigation bumblebees, attaching to them miniature switch Radio, which allowed researchers to observe how insects find flowers and remember their position, according to an article published in the journal PLoS One.
Many insects are able to fly for long distances in search of food during seasonal migrations or when searching for a new home. For example, bees often fly a few tens of kilometers in choosing a site for the hive, and the monarch butterfly wound hundreds of kilometers during the intercontinental migrations. Exotic bodies and techniques — Sun position sensors in the antennae of butterflies or navigation "dance" scarab beetles — help the insects will not get lost during the flight.
Team of biologists led by Lars Chittka (Lars Chittka), University of London (UK) tried to figure out how bees find flowers with nectar suitable for them and remember the road to such plants.
To do this, scientists have made several large artificial flowers with a comfortable "landing sites", and big drops of nectar in the center and planted them in the open field at the beginning of October last year. Within these biologists hid webcams that were included when motion inside a flower and send images wirelessly.
During the experiment, scientists have caught a few wild bees and glued to their abdomen miniature sensor that tracks the movements of insects with powerful radar and radio equipment, integrated into artificial flowers. Biologists collect data for a few weeks, and then combined them and tried to find an algorithm that bees use to find the best ways.
"Using mathematical models, we understand how bees memorize new information and determine how they are finding the best way to color without using a map. Initially, their routes were long and inefficient, but after 26 missions out of the hive insects have developed the best way to source of nectar, "- said one of the study participants Lihoro Matthew (Mathieu Lihoreau), University of London.
According to scientists, bees produce the best route through trial and error. First, the insects flew out of the hive in a random direction, but then they began to avoid those areas of the field where they could not find flowers in previous expeditions. So, step by step, bumblebees dismissed all non-optimal routes and work out the most economical and convenient way to sources of nectar.
"Interestingly, while bees continued to follow its route, even in cases where we remove one of the flowers. Seems that the insects are not so easy to give up a source of good food," — said Chittka.
Biologists believe that they have developed mathematical models of Flight of the Bumblebee useful in the study of the behavior of other insects, including bees, and help ecologists assess how changes in the environment affect the lives of insects.