Honey bees on cocaine dance more

From Science Daily: Honey Bees On Cocaine Dance More, Changing Ideas About The Insect Brain.

In a study that challenges current ideas about the insect brain, researchers have found that honey bees on cocaine tend to exaggerate.

Normally, foraging honey bees alert their comrades to potential food sources only when they’ve found high quality nectar or pollen, and only when the hive is in need. They do this by performing a dance, called a "round" or "waggle" dance, on a specialized "dance floor" in the hive. The dance gives specific instructions that help the other bees find the food.

Foraging honey bees on cocaine are more likely to dance, regardless of the quality of the food they’ve found or the status of the hive, the authors of the study report.

The findings, detailed this month in the Journal of Experimental Biology, shed new light on the famous honey bee dance language, said University of Illinois entomology and neuroscience professor Gene Robinson, who led the study. The research also supports the idea that in certain circumstances, honey bees, like humans, are motivated by feelings of reward. [continue].

Bees are eating Lichfield Cathedral

From Christopher Howse’s article in The Telegraph: Bees are eating Lichfield Cathedral.

Bees are eating Lichfield Cathedral. It sounds like science fiction, but it is science fact. I might take back the kind words I had for bees in this column (June 28), except that the cathedral-eating kind are not our beleaguered honey bees.

The vandals are masonry bees, of which there are nearly 20 species in Britain. Who’d have thought it? Normally they do little harm, as readers have reported in the Telegraph letters page (July 26). But Lichfield cathedral is built of soft old sandstone, which crumbles like cheese. The bees take advantage of exfoliating stone, and where one lays her eggs, others are attracted. Their little mandibles can burrow a system of galleries, and the holes fill with water, which freezes in winter, splitting the stone, and providing yet more desirable residences for bees.[continue]

While you’re thinking about Lichfield Cathedral, stop in at their website to have a peek at Lichfield Angel, the St Chad Gospels, and Herckenrode Glass.

Bees, fish analyzed to understand serial killers

From discovery.com: Bees, Fish Analyzed to Understand Serial Killers.

Studying species in the animal world helps police catch human criminals — and vice versa. Originally developed to catch serial killers, a method called geographic profiling is now being used to study great white sharks, bats and bees.

In turn, criminologists expect that these biological studies will help refine their criminal studies, making it easier for them to catch criminals more quickly. Eventually they want to apply it to other fields, such as epidemiology.

"The same general geographic framework that criminologists use to catch criminals can be used by zoologists as well," said Kim Rossmo, co-author of an article in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface and a professor at the Texas State University Center for Geospatial Intelligence and Investigation.

“This makes us think that it can be applied to other areas as well, like epidemiology.” [continue]