- News Home
12 December 2013 1:00 pm ,
Vol. 342 ,
The iconic 125-year-old Lick Observatory on Mount Hamilton near San Jose, California, is facing the threat of closure...
Recent results from the Curiosity Mars rover have helped scientists formulate a plan for the next phase of its mission...
A new, remarkably powerful drug that cripples the hepatitis C virus (HCV) came to market last week, but it sells for $...
In pretoothbrush populations, gumlines would often be marred by a thick, visible crust of calcium phosphate, food...
Evolutionary biologists have long studied how the Mexican tetra, a drab fish that lives in rivers and creeks but has...
Victorian astronomers spent countless hours laboriously charting the positions of stars in the sky. Such sky mapping,...
In an ambitious project to study 1000 years of sickness and health, researchers are excavating the graveyard of the now...
Stefan Behnisch has won awards for designing science labs and other buildings that are smart, sustainable, and...
- 12 December 2013 1:00 pm , Vol. 342 , #6164
- About Us
ScienceShot: When Sparks Fly
21 February 2013 2:00 pm
Along with sight and smell, bumblebees can detect flowers via their electric fields. Scientists already knew that as bumblebees fly, their wings generate positively charged static electricity. Flowers usually have a negative charge compared with the air, a difference that helps carry pollen from a flower to a bumblebee pollinating it (shown here). Now, lab tests reveal that bumblebees can learn to distinguish artificial flowers providing a sweet solution and having a certain pattern of electric field from similar artificial blossoms dosed with bitter liquids that sport a distinctly different electric field. These results suggest that the insects can also distinguish among natural flowers by their electric charge, researchers report online in Science. This matters because a flower's charge changes temporarily after a bumblebee visits it, possibly helping other bees avoid a flower that's now low in pollen. Furthermore, the researchers contend, if bumblebees can distinguish among blossoms with a lot or a little nectar, the insects won't be turned off by an entire species of flower after a few low-reward experiences.
See more ScienceShots.