The honeybee hive would not seem to be the place to look for individuality, flexibility in job duties and social mobility. But by using new techniques for analyzing bee behavior, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, recently found that the life of a bee is less rigidly determined than had been thought.
They first discovered that an elite 20 percent of foragers do 50 percent of all the foraging, and then found that membership in this group was surprisingly flexible. When the elite bees were removed from the hive, less hard-working bees raised the level of their activity and a new elite emerged.
Gene E. Robinson, the director of the Institute for Genomic Biology at the university, said he and other researchers set out to look at the behavior of bees in a new way partly because of “an increasing appreciation of the role of the individual in social insects.”
Read more at the New York Times.
Screengrab via New York Times.