Bumblebee recovers by honey

This 17 February 2017 video shows a bumblebee. Exhausted, it had landed on the floor of the kitchen of Hans Looijschelder in the Netherlands.

Hans carefully put a piece of paper under the bumblebee and put it on a wall outside, out of reach for cats.

Hans then gave the bumblebee a drop of honey; which gave the insect the strength to fly again.

New bee species discovered on Texel island

This is a Barbut’s cuckoo-bee video.

Warden Erik van der Spek on Texel island in the Netherlands writes today that three bee species, new for the island, have been found this year.

Also, one species, the brown-banded carder bee, which had disappeared from Texel since the 1930s, returned in 2016.

This means that out of 357 bee species living in the Netherlands, 141 live on Texel. Six species have disappeared as far as Texel’s history is known, four of which have disappeared from the Netherlands as a whole.

The three new species of 2016 are: Andrena synadelpha; Andrena bimaculata, and the Barbut’s cuckoo-bee.

Hummingbird, bee share nectar in Texas

This video from the USA says about itself:

Hummingbird and Honey Bee Share Some Nectar – Nov. 4, 2016

Watch live at http://AllAboutBirds.org/TexasHummers

The West Texas Hummingbird Feeder Cam is nestled in the mountains outside Fort Davis, Texas, at an elevation of over 6200 feet. This site hosts a total of 24 Perky-Pet® Grand Master hummingbird feeders, and during peak migration can attract hundreds of hummingbirds from a dozen species that are migrating through the arid mountains.

Ivy bees expanding north

This November 2014 video from Britain is called Ivy Bee (Colletes hederae) nest site.

Ivy bees are a species which used to live in the Netherlands only in the southern provinces.

However, in September and October 2016 they have been seen in Lelystad city in Flevoland province.

In England, this species had been seen for the first time in 2001.

Intelligent bumblebees can learn to pull strings

This video says about itself:

Social learning and cultural transmission in bees

Footage shows a pair of bees (the seeded demonstrator and an observer) tested with the string pulling task in Colony 8. The red dot indicates the seeded demonstrator. The observer has not learned string pulling yet but has already been tested three times in paired foraging bouts. The demonstrator lands at the edge of the table, repositions herself in front of the string, and starts pulling immediately.

The observer is first attracted to the blue flower and lands on top of the table. The observer subsequently flies to the demonstrator, lands at her side, and walks to the nearby flower and string. She walks along the protruding string, reaches the table edge, and moves sideways. She notices the demonstrator and walks to her side, moving around her whilst the demonstrator is pulling, always in close contact.

The observer touches the string a few times but does not grasp it. The demonstrator eventually extracts the blue disk and steps onto it. The observer copies the demonstrator. They both slide the flower from under the table and obtain the reward.

Once the first pulled flower is depleted, the demonstrator moves to the nearest flower and pulls the string. The observer stays on the extracted flower for a short period, circling, probing the emptied inverted cap before noticing the demonstrator drinking from a second flower and joining her. In a similar way, once the second pulled flower is emptied, the demonstrator moves and pulls a third flower and the observer joins her. Her crop filled up, the demonstrator flies back to the colony.

From PLOS Biology:

Associative Mechanisms Allow for Social Learning and Cultural Transmission of String Pulling in an Insect

October 4, 2016


Social insects make elaborate use of simple mechanisms to achieve seemingly complex behavior and may thus provide a unique resource to discover the basic cognitive elements required for culture, i.e., group-specific behaviors that spread from “innovators” to others in the group via social learning. We first explored whether bumblebees can learn a nonnatural object manipulation task by using string pulling to access a reward that was presented out of reach. Only a small minority “innovated” and solved the task spontaneously, but most bees were able to learn to pull a string when trained in a stepwise manner.

In addition, naïve bees learnt the task by observing a trained demonstrator from a distance. Learning the behavior relied on a combination of simple associative mechanisms and trial-and-error learning and did not require “insight”: naïve bees failed a “coiled-string experiment,” in which they did not receive instant visual feedback of the target moving closer when tugging on the string.

In cultural diffusion experiments, the skill spread rapidly from a single knowledgeable individual to the majority of a colony’s foragers. We observed that there were several sequential sets (“generations”) of learners, so that previously naïve observers could first acquire the technique by interacting with skilled individuals and, subsequently, themselves become demonstrators for the next “generation” of learners, so that the longevity of the skill in the population could outlast the lives of informed foragers. This suggests that, so long as animals have a basic toolkit of associative and motor learning processes, the key ingredients for the cultural spread of unusual skills are already in place and do not require sophisticated cognition.

Author Summary

Social insects make use of simple mechanisms to achieve many seemingly complex behaviors and thus may be able to provide a unique resource for uncovering the basic cognitive elements required for culture. Here, we first show that bumblebees can be trained to pull a string to access a reward, but most could not learn on their own. Naïve bees learned how to pull strings by observing trained demonstrators from a distance.

Learning the behavior through observation relied on bees paying attention to both the string and the position of the trained demonstrator bee while pulling the string. We then tested whether bees could pass this information to others during a semi-natural situation involving several colonies. We found that once one bee knew how to string pull, over time, most of the foraging bees learned from the initially trained bee or from bees who had learned from the trained bee, even after the initial demonstrator was no longer available. These results suggest that learning a nonnatural task in bumblebees can spread culturally through populations.

These bumblebees were Bombus terrestris, large earth bumblebees.

Primitive signs of emotions spotted in sugar-buzzed bumblebees. After a treat, insects appeared to have rosier outlooks. By Emily Underwood, 2:00pm, September 29, 2016: here.

Birds, bees, butterflies, pollination in the USA

This video from the USA says about itself:

3 September 2016

We could not survive on earth without pollination. Relax and contemplate an hour of a pollination frenzy of bees and butterflies in a stand of freshly blooming Devil’s Walking Stick trees near the edge of a forest high in the Great Smoky Mountains. Despite the evil name, this rare native plant is an important source of nutrients for bees and butterflies in August and the birds go crazy for the ripe tasty purple berry fruit in September.

THE BEE THAT COULD “A team of researchers scours the wilds of northern Alaska for Bombus polaris, a big bee that has adapted to the cold and that can teach them more about the effects of climate change.” [NYT]

This video from the USA says about itself:

Devil’s Walking Stick trees (Aralia spinosa) provide a bounty of purple berries in early fall that is a feast for birds such as American Robins, Dark Eyed Juncos, Warblers and Eastern Towhees. You’ll hear many other birds calling in the background. This is a great native plant (Eastern U.S.) to develop in the yard for bird lovers especially at a transition from grass to forest.