Gambling Bees

Gamblers Anonymous need not open a division
for bees. Researchers know that bees are not comfortable with high risk ventures
and tend to invest their time and energy in the places, plants, colors and
particular flowers that they already know. Like many people, bees tend to
avoid risk.

By studying the behavioral patterns of bees,
Dr. Sharoni Shafir of the Faculty of Agricultural, Food and Environmental
Quality Sciences of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem
in Rehovot, hopes
to understand the psyche of the bee. This information will help honey growers
to select the flowers that most attract bees. Once the market research on
the flower preferences of the bee is complete, researchers will be able to
recommend the most suitable flowers to beekeepers. This in turn will lead
bees to produce honey more efficiently and in larger quantities. This information
is valuable to bee keepers. For them, a satisfied bee produces more honey.

Genetic components
affect simple behavior as well as complex decision-making. Bees are often
given the job of plant cross-pollination.

As seed producing
companies need bees to help produce seeds from one place with ovules (female)
from another kind of flower. The bees are responsible for the cross pollination.
Honey bees are also the main flower pollinators. Bees go to the flowers for
both nectar (sugar) and pollen (protein).

As the research continues,
Shafir and his team hope to identify the bees who are the greatest risk
takers. Using the queen and drones from the high risk taking group, he hopes
to be able to produce a progeny of risk takers. Once they have bred, the offspring
will be compared with a control group. Shafir hopes to discover if those
with a genetic component to take risks actually do take greater risks than
those in the control group.

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