Social insects like ants and bees may be best known for their division of labor. The queen lays eggs; other bees do other jobs, with varying degrees of specialization. In honeybees, nurse bees take care of the young, foragers fetch food, and scouts go out looking for new sources of food. I wrote about some research on those scouts for ScienceNOW.
The researchers found evidence that this boldness in honeybee scouts–the willingness to go out and look for new sources of food even though there’s a perfectly good flower right there–involves some of the same genes as novelty-seeking in humans and other vertebrates, which has been pretty well studied.
Fun fact: The graduate student on this study, who has been stung many times and really seems to be quite a determined young person, is allergic to bee stings. She got allergy shots to desensitize her to the allergen. They worked.
photo: Alex Wild, alexanderwild.com