Skip to main content

Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology

Where Science Meets Society

Study: Gene Regulation Underlies the Evolution of Social Complexity in Bees

Explaining the evolution of insect society, with sterile society members displaying extreme levels of altruism, has long been a major scientific challenge, dating back to Charles Darwin’s day. A new genomic study of 10 species of bees representing a spectrum of social living – from solitary bees to those in complex, highly social colonies – offers new insights into the genetic changes that accompany the evolution of bee societies.

The new findings are reported in the journal Science.

Researchers boost insect aggression by altering brain metabolism

Researchers boost insect aggression by altering brain metabolism

Scientists report they can crank up insect aggression simply by interfering with a basic metabolic pathway in the insect brain. Their study, of fruit flies and honey bees, shows a direct, causal link between brain metabolism (how the brain generates the energy it needs to function) and aggression.

The team reports its findings in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Scientists track gene activity when honey bees do and don't eat honey

Scientists track gene activity when honey bees do and don't eat honey

Many beekeepers feed their honey bees sucrose or high-fructose corn syrup when times are lean inside the hive. This practice has come under scrutiny, however, in response to colony collapse disorder, the massive -- and as yet not fully explained -- annual die-off of honey bees in the U.S. and Europe. Some suspect that inadequate nutrition plays a role in honey bee declines.

Insects Have Personalities Too, Research on Honey Bees Indicates

A new study in Science suggests that thrill-seeking is not limited to humans and other vertebrates. Some honey bees, too, are more likely than others to seek adventure. The brains of these novelty-seeking bees exhibit distinct patterns of gene activity in molecular pathways known to be associated with thrill-seeking in humans, researchers report.

Subscribe to Bees