The Loh Down On Science

Bee Movie

Researchers traumatize bees with hidden robotic spiders - for science!

And now, for a somewhat upsetting BEE story.

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science

And on. . . bee inner angst.

Thomas Ings and Lars Chittka from Queen Mary University of London-- Well! They played kind of a mean trick on a group of bees.

Crab spiders prey on bees and can change color to blend into flowers.

So Ings and Chittka set up fake flowers and hid robotic crab spiders inside some of the buds.

Some spiders were colored for camouflage, others contrasting, easy to spot.

When a bee landed on a booby-trapped flower, the spider gently trapped it in foam pincers, then let it go. Yikes!

The researchers filmed the experiment. Thanks.

Despite their near-death experience, bees caught by easy-to-see spiders continued foraging as before. They simply avoided any obviously rigged flowers.

But bees snagged by a hidden spider? TRAUMATIZED. They slowed down their work, inspected flowers more carefully, and rejected even SAFE buds. They traded foraging efficiency for less risk of capture.

Do you hear me, people? They weren't. . . the same. That's the surprising harm hidden robotic spiders can do.


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