Beehives Are Held Together by Their Mutual Gut Microbes

Beehives Are Held Together by Their Mutual Gut Microbes

She knew gut microbes can affect the scent and communication of other animals, like hyenas. [Cassondra L. Vernier et al., The gut microbiome defines social group membership in honey bee colonies]In one experiment, they fed different gut microbes to newly hatched sister bees. And they attacked each other, usually in the form of biting each other.”In other words, bees from the same colony did not recognize each other when they had different gut microbes. Washington University [in St. Louis] biology professor and co-author Yehuda Ben-Shahar says the microbes are changing the bees physiologically and controlling their complicated social behaviors. Without that ability, bees would be vulnerable to nest parasites—and to other bees looking to steal their most precious commodity: honey.

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