Also these insects seem to choose the flower from which to feed on the basis of how many similar their already buzz in its vicinity.
|The bumblebees imitate the behavior of their fellows and line up to suck the nectar from the most popular flower.|
To study this aspect of the life of the curious insect is a group of researchers from the University of Arizona who analyzed the "social behavior" of different animal species.
Behaviors to imitate. The idea of this research scientists owe it even to Darwin who, on several occasions, had claimed that bees learned their behavior from bumblebees.
Of course the behavioral imitation between different species remains an untested field. However, it remains true that the American study sheds light on a perhaps more interesting aspect of insect behavior. "We know that bumblebees are able to communicate with each other, but no one has ever considered whether and how each member of the group pays attention and eventually imitates the actions of others, " says Bradley D. Worden, one of the research coordinators.
In line to eat. Studying the social habits of a bumblebee is not exactly the easiest thing in the world; but an ingenious trick can help. So Worden placed six fake flowers of two different colors, green and orange, in an enclosed space, some of which had a wick soaked in a sugary substance.
Being able to choose bumblebees obviously preferred "nutritious" flowers. Separated by a glass, other bumblebees watched the scene. Once left free, the latter invariably made their way to the flowers that had previously been most crowded, despite the food had previously been removed.
Passive communication. In short, if the bees "dance" to communicate the position of the food to the group, the bumblebees prefer to simply observe and interpret the behavior of those who have already arrived to the flowers. A sort of passive communication, we would say, based on deduction and therefore closer to the forms of human social interaction.
(News updated 5 September 2005)