Bees practice social distancing

Just like us and COVID-19

While we have all been socially distanced due to COVID-19, it turns out Bees know this trick and use it as a response to Varroa. Social distancing reduces infections among individuals; it's hard to get a virus if you are sitting in front of Zoom 200 kilometers from an infected person. While bees don't have Zoom, a paper by Pusceddu and others (Pusceddu et al., Sci. Adv. 2021; 7 : eabj1398) shows that honeybees change their behaviour when their hive is infected with Varroa mite. The bees act to separate foragers from nurse bees, changing the location of where the waggle dance occurs and decreasing contact between bees in the brood chamber and foragers. The research shows that the bees change the way they behave as a way to limit the spread of mites in the hive. Given the resistance to social distancing from many humans, perhaps bees are smarter than us when it comes to facing pandemics!


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