The Ritz Herald

Human Activities May Be Harming Bee Communication, Putting Struggling Colonies at Risk

Diverse communication strategies in bees as a window into adaptations to an unpredictable world

Published on June 13, 2023

New analysis suggests that human activities can hinder effective communication among bees, leading to further strain on already struggling colonies.

Researchers at the University of Bristol have studied honeybees, bumblebees, and stingless bees, discovering that variations in communication strategies are linked to differences in habitat and social lifestyle. Anthropogenic changes, such as habitat conversion, climate change, and the use of agrochemicals, are altering the world that bees inhabit, affecting communication directly and indirectly through factors like food source availability and social interactions.

As a result, understanding how bees adapt to these threats is becoming a crucial area of research for bee conservation. Social bees are particularly important pollinators due to their foraging activity, but different types of bees use different communication methods to find food efficiently. Despite this, it is still unclear why different bees use different methods to solve the same problem.

Author Christoph Grueter from Bristol’s School of Biological Sciences explained: “We have synthesized the recent literature to explain how differences in ecology and sociality explains this variation.

“It is known that anthropogenic effects, such as climate change, pesticides and habitat loss negatively affect social bees.

“The research we analyzed shows that different bees have found many different solutions to the problem of finding good food sources in an efficient way. Anthropogenic change has the potential to interfere with bee communication and behaviors that have helped bees be successful for millions of years might suddenly no longer be equally beneficial.”

Further research is necessary to comprehend how human-induced changes affect communication patterns that assist colonies in exploiting resources.

The team’s next goal is to investigate the impact of habitat loss, climate change, and pesticides on communication behaviors in bees.

Environmental Reporter