Bees-cleaners scored a strong immune system

Scientists have discovered that working individuals honeybee that debriding relatives, have a stronger immune system. This reduces their chances to pick up relatives from infection or parasites. The overall specialization of bee shiners proved to be quite weak and temporary: as shown by observations, mostly this work is done by individuals at the age from three to fifteen days. The results of a study published in the journal Scientific Reports.

Honeybees (Apis mellifera) are very serious about hygiene. Some working individuals in their hives regularly clean the bodies of relatives from the mud. This behavior reduces the risk that in the hive will get infections and parasites such as mites.

Bees-cleaners attract attention of specialists. The fact that in the last decade, bee colonies all over the world suffer from the spread of pests. The most dangerous of them South Asian origin mite Varroa destructor, which is responsible for many cases of mass death of bees. The researchers hope that the study of bees hygiene will help to cope with this threat.

A team of scientists led by Alessandro Chini (Cini Alessandro) from University College London decided to find out how far the specialization of bees cleaners. Existing data on this subject are contradictory. In some publications it is reported that working individuals acting as cleaners only from the first to the twentieth day of his life, while in other States that individuals are engaged in this lifetime.

To understand this question, the researchers conducted a thorough observation of the behavior of worker bees in three hives. Primarily they were interested in what range of tasks performed by bees-cleaners and what social status they occupy in the colony. In addition, the authors checked whether the configured sense of smell these individuals on search in need of cleaning dogs and do they have a stronger immunity.

Analyzing the 1065 cases cleaning bees relatives, the authors came to the conclusion that this work is really involved in the part of the individuals of a certain age, namely from three to fifteen days. They perform in the hive, and other tasks, along with their peers not involved in the hygiene procedures.

The researchers suggested that bees that routinely purge ilk needs to occupy a Central position in social networks of the colony. This would allow them to process the highest number of individuals. This hypothesis was confirmed: the degree of centrality of the bees-shiners were significantly higher than other workers of similar age.

The authors found no evidence that the smell of bees-shiners sharpened to search individuals, especially those in need of cleaning. Perhaps they focus more on the tactile sensations or the behaviour of relatives — for example, the so-called dance invitations to cleaning.

While the immune system of bees-shiners were more specialized. Researchers have confirmed that such individuals better than their peers cope with the purification of hemolymph from bacterial cells. This is logical, because in the performance of their duties, they face increased risk of catching an infection or parasite. It is unclear whether this feature of adaptation to threat work or does it occur in response to regular interaction with infections.

Thus, specialization to cleaning relatives were the bees an interim and rather weak. However, it is very clearly manifested at the level of the immune system, indicating a high phenotypic plasticity of these insects. The authors suggest that the increase in the proportion of bees in a colony cleaners could help to cope with the spread of parasites, including such dangerous as the mites Varroa.

Another insidious parasite bee virus acute paralysis. As shown by a recent study, this infection alters the social behavior of infected individuals, making them less popular in his native colony and more popular in another. This allows the virus to spread faster

Sergey Knee High

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