Solitary bees born with functional internal clock – unlike honeybees

Image of red mason in sensing equipment.

(EurekAlert, Frontiers) A common trait of many social insects like honey bees is age-specific behavior: when they emerge from the pupa, workers typically specialize in around-the-clock tasks inside the darkness of the nest, starting with brood care. But they gradually shift towards more cyclic tasks away from center of the nest as they get older. Researchers how found evidence that this shift from around-the-clock to rhythmic tasks, which does not occur in solitary insects, seems to be driven by a slower maturation of the internal “circadian” clock of social honey bees compared to solitary bees. They also found that in solitary red mason bees, Osmia bicornis, females and males emerge with a mature, fully functional circadian clock.

IKEA wants to help you design your own bee home for free

Image of different bee hotels.

(My Modern Net) SPACE10, a research and design lab supported by IKEA, has started the Bee Home project – an online hive designer where users can download designs for free. Additionally, no tools are needed to construct the homes. The site also features an interactive map where you can locate other Bee Home designs around the globe. “With a design that is flexible and accessible through open-source design principles, everyone, everywhere is empowered to design and fabricate their own Bee Home locally.”

Native bees also facing novel pandemic

Image of bumble bee and honey bee on flower.

(University of Colorado at Boulder) While it’s been documented across three continents, the fungal pathogen known as Nosema has almost exclusively been studied and recorded only in the European honey bee. Almost nothing is known about the impact of this pathogen on native, solitary bees Without knowing how Nosema is affecting native, solitary bees, a whole pandemic and its ecological consequences could be going on unnoticed.

Recycling old genes to get new traits: How social behavior evolves in bees

Image of sweat bee in tunnel.

(Phys.org/Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute) A team working at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute found evidence to support a long-debated mode of evolution, revealing how evolution captures environmental variation to teach old genes new tricks: Sweat bees switch from solitary to social behavior, repurposing ancient sets of genes that originally evolved to regulate the development of other traits.

Alfalfa leafcutting bees like nests that face north

Image of alfalfa leafcutting bee looking for nest hole.

(Entomology Today) Alfalfa leafcutting bees are exceedingly demanding about picking a site in nest boxes used for commercial production that is not too hot and not too cold but where the temperature is just right for their eggs and larvae. New research shows that the right location in a nest box may be only a couple of inches away from the wrong one.

Smart single mother bees learn from their neighbors

Image of artificial nests for bees.

(Queen Mary University of London) A new study found that solitary female bees looked for signs of parasite infection in other species’ nests and used this information to select a safe place to bring up their own brood. The scientists found these species were surprisingly intelligent in their observations and able to notice other cues of parasite infection in the surrounding environment. For example, they were able to remember geometric symbols found next to parasitized nests, and avoid nests near these symbols in future breeding periods.