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Photo of David Roubik DAVID WARD ROUBIK

David Roubik, staff entomologist at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, and James Nieh (see information about Nieh below) have discovered that a species of stingless bee can direct nestmates to a specific location to find food.

Their study, profiled on Expedition Panama, used a clever experiment to determine that bees communicate without using scent trails, marks or guide bees. In another experiment, Roubik, working in Malaysian Borneo, has demonstrated how two Asian honeybee species rapidly locate food sources in the tree canopy. For more about Roubik's work, visit the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute.

JAMES C. NIEH

James Nieh has been interested in bee communication since he was an undergraduate at Harvard University. He is currently at the University of Wurtzburg on a post-doctoral fellowship funded by the National Science Foundation and NATO, studying how honeybees communicate with vibrations. Nieh, a doctoral student at Cornell University when this episode of Frontiers was filmed, was in Panama working with Roubik as part of his graduate studies. When he completes his one-year of study in Germany, Nieh will return to the States for another post-doctoral position and will eventually seek a position as a professor at a research university.

See David Roubik's and James Nieh's answers to Ask the Scientists questions.




 

Scientific American Frontiers
Fall 1990 to Spring 2000
Sponsored by GTE Corporation,
now a part of Verizon Communications Inc.