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In Bees, A Hunt for the Roots of Social Behavior [Slide Show]

By comparing the genomes of social and solitary bees, scientists hope to uncover the basis for communal behavior

By Emily Singer and Quanta Magazine

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Sarah Kocher,

a postdoctoral researcher at Harvard, is trying to understand the genetics underlying social behavior in bees.....[ More ]

Bees from the L. albipes species

 are unusual in that they can adopt either a social or solitary lifestyle. In social bee communities, queen bees lay eggs while foragers collect pollen for the hive.....[ More ]

Kocher

 often hikes long distances to find good populations of bees, such as this solitary bee field site in Switzerland.....[ More ]

A French researcher,

 Cecile Plateaux-Quenu, conducted early work in L. albipes, identifying, cataloging and studying many of the populations that Kocher now studies.....[ More ]

Social bees

 are often found along the edges of meadows such as this one in Dordogne, France.....[ More ]

Bee populations

 from this part of the Pyrenees are likely to be solitary because of the cooler mountain climates, but more research is needed to confirm this.....[ More ]

This female

 L. albipes bee came from a social population in Dordogne, France.....[ More ]

This honeybee,

 known as Yellow 57, was one of the most highly specialized bees ever studied. She spent her days carrying water from a stream to the hive.....[ More ]

The alfalfa leafcutter bee,

  Megachile rotundata , is a solitary species that will be sequenced as part of Gene Robinson’s latest project.....[ More ]

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