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New pheromone creates buzz about the clout of older bees
New pheromone creates buzz about the clout of older bees
Published by MHarris
October 4th, 2005
Default New pheromone creates buzz about the clout of older bees

New pheromone creates buzz about the clout of older bees

EAST LANSING, Mich. – A recent discovery unveils the chemical secret that gives old bees the authority to keep young bees home babysitting instead of going out on the town.

A hard-to-detect pheromone explains a phenomenon Michigan State University entomologist Zachary Huang published 12 years ago – that somehow older forager bees exert influence over the younger nurse bees in a hive, keeping them grounded until they are more mature, and thus more ready to handle the demands of buzzing about.

The work that identifies the chemical, “Regulation of Behavioral Maturation in Honey Bees by a New Primer Pheromone” is publishing in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science Biological Sciences, Population Biology, Early Edition the week of Nov. 29.

“If the older ones don't keep them in check, the young ones can mature too quickly,” Huang said. “It's kind of the same thing as with people, you need the elders to check on the young, even if the young are physically able to go out on their own, it's not the best situation for anybody and now we know how it works.”

Huang worked with a team that spanned from the United States , France and Canada to explain how the bees kept an exquisitely consistent balance between the ones that go out to collect nectar and pollen and defend the hive, and those that stay home and nurture the larvae. Huang had documented that this balance is controlled by the elder bees, those that typically spend the final one to three weeks of their five-week lifespan out in the field.

Experiments showed that if a significant number of forager bees didn't come home, the young nurse bees would mature ahead of schedule and head out to become foragers themselves. If the older bees were kept inside more than usual – as in an extended rain shower – fewer young bees would mature, but instead stick to brood care.

But the question was always, why? Pheromones are a chemical signal emitted by animals, insects and humans. Some, called releaser pheromones, are like a quick conversation that changes behavior, such as those that inspire sexual attraction.

Since releasers change behaviors immediately, they historically have been easier to identify. Hundreds of releaser pheromones have been chemically identified, whereas only four (including this new one) have been identified as primer pheromones. Primer pheromones are more difficult to work with because they imparts behavioral changes in a much longer time scale, taking days or sometimes weeks to see an effect.

Huang and his associates spent years futilely searching for a primer pheromone. After many dead ends, the group came upon a crucial difference between forager bees and nurse bees: Forager bees carry a mother load of a chemical called ethyl oleate in the abdominal reservoir in which they store nectar.

That, Huang said, led them to identify ethyl oleate as another kind of pheromone – called primer pheromone.

Forager bees load up on ethyl oleate when they're buzzing about gathering food, but don't digest it. The forager bees feed the chemical to the worker bees, and the ethyl oleate keeps them in a teenage state, sort of like being grounded to watch the younger siblings.

As the old bees die off, the chemical no longer is fed to nurse bees. Eliminate ethyl oleate and the bees mature into foragers.

“This provides clear insight into how a bee colony works,” said Gene Robinson, G. William Arends professor of integrative biology and director of the neuroscience program at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. “What's most impressive about a honey bee colony is it is able to respond to changing conditions and alter its division of labor. When you think of that type of flexibility and adaptability, you immediately think, ‘who's in charge'? People from many scientific and engineering endeavors are fascinated by localized decentralized decision making.”

Huang said the system makes sense for the health of the hive. Young bees – those in the first two to three weeks of life – are biologically better suited for brood care, thanks to some boosted blood protein. Bees forced out too early aren't great navigators, and since foraging is dangerous, they risk dying before their time.

“Our idea has never been disproved, but the lack of mechanism drove me crazy,” said Huang. “Now we know the specific chemical that controls the behavior of honey bees for the good of the whole population.”

In addition to Huang and Robinson, the paper's authors are Isabelle Leoncini, Yves Le Conte, Didier Crauser, Guy Costagliola and Jean-Marc Bécard, of the National Institute of Agricultural Research in Avignon, France; Mianwei Wang, Erika Plettner and Keith Slessor of Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, Canada; and Amy Toth of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

The research was funded by the National Institute of Health. Huang's research also is supported by the Michigan Agricultural Experiment Station.



A honey bee worker (top left corner) feeds four others simultaneously. Honey bee social feeding was long thought to involve the exchange of communicative substances, in addition to food. The report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences is the first discovery of a primer pheromone produced by adult worker honey bees that is thought to be transferred via food exchange. (Photo courtesy of Zachary Huang.)


MSU entomologist Zachary Huang.

Huang's home page: http://www.msu.edu/~bees/

To learn more about honey bees and honey bee research: http://cyberbee.msu.edu/
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  #1  
By MHarris on October 4th, 2005, 11:40 AM
Default Re: New pheromone creates buzz about the clout of older bees

Most articles I see involving insects don't seem to cross-apply to humans, but this one seems to echo. Worth the read.
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  #2  
By josef on December 19th, 2005, 12:15 AM
Default Re: New pheromone creates buzz about the clout of older bees

ethyl oleate sounds a lot like an allowance
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  #3  
By MHarris on December 19th, 2005, 03:05 AM
Default Re: New pheromone creates buzz about the clout of older bees

Quote:
Originally Posted by josef
ethyl oleate sounds a lot like an allowance
Great metaphor, yeah!

Makes a good deal of sense, especially because it "keep them in an teenage" state. It's well know that exogenous dependence keeps people (and I suppose, it could be true of some bugs and animals) from fully developing. Outer dependence is like a developmental freeze frame.

In English: Giving a child an allowance probably keeps them childlike (non-adult) longer than if they had to fend for themselves, and earn their own money. It's interesting that bees seem to have a pheromonal pseud-equivalent.
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  #4  
By josef on December 19th, 2005, 04:05 AM
Default Re: New pheromone creates buzz about the clout of older bees

some people, men in particular, seem to thrive on the control that handing out money to kids and spouses gives them. back in my early twenties, one friend in particular had a father that was a large guy with a really deep voice and he was the sole earner in the family of 4.

brother would yell at sister, sister would yell at brother, brother and sister would complain to mom, mom would tell them to sort it out or she would get their father and eventually, father would come up from the basement and in his deep voice yell at mother "what the hell was going on up here what is with all this noise" , brother and sister would see their mother take an inferior position to their father, mother would explain that she asked the kids to sort it out for themselves and then step aside while father would proceed to put the kids in their place.

when all the shouting was done, mother would tell father about the supper she was about to make for him but she had to go to the store first, father would reach into his wallet and give her some cash and go back down to the basement, mother would send the kids to the store with fathers money and they were only too happy to get out of the house at this point, feeling a little bit more independent than a moment ago when they were completely dependent and shaking in their boots and also feeling like they were about to contribute something.

yes, my friend and his sister were in their early twenties.

yes , i would be hanging out in the back room laughing my ass off
and ready to give my friend shit when he came back.

what this has to do with ethyl oleate i don't know, but i do know that the father and mother were not raising healthy, capable, fully functioning soon to be adults, they were maintaining some kind of co-dependant nightmare that probably ends up in parents divorcing, son in jail for abusing drugs and daughter on the public rolls with 4 kids all by different guys that have no relationship with their kids.

i say probably because i didn't stick around to find out.
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  #5  
By MHarris on December 19th, 2005, 08:17 AM
Default Re: New pheromone creates buzz about the clout of older bees

Quote:
Originally Posted by josef
some people, men in particular, seem to thrive on the control that handing out money to kids and spouses gives them.
They do, indeed.

I'd almost rather they hand ME money, for a change. The thrill of it wears away after all, trust me.

i.e., I usually even find myself paying for friends at bars and restaurants, even when they earn more than me. It's weird.

Actually, with pheromones the situation has reversed somewhat, now and again. I've gotten more freebies during times I've heavily experimented with pheromones more than any other time in my life. Depends on what I wear.

What's unusual, is that I view A314 as positioning you as a "provider", yet I've gotten freebies or people at least splitting bills with that. If I really think about it, it's often the times when I add additional androstenol .

Quote:
Originally Posted by josef
back in my early twenties, one friend in particular had a father that was a large guy with a really deep voice and he was the sole earner in the family of 4.

brother would yell at sister, sister would yell at brother, brother and sister would complain to mom, mom would tell them to sort it out or she would get their father and eventually, father would come up from the basement and in his deep voice yell at mother "what the hell was going on up here what is with all this noise" , brother and sister would see their mother take an inferior position to their father, mother would explain that she asked the kids to sort it out for themselves and then step aside while father would proceed to put the kids in their place.

when all the shouting was done, mother would tell father about the supper she was about to make for him but she had to go to the store first, father would reach into his wallet and give her some cash and go back down to the basement, mother would send the kids to the store with fathers money and they were only too happy to get out of the house at this point, feeling a little bit more independent than a moment ago when they were completely dependent and shaking in their boots and also feeling like they were about to contribute something.

yes, my friend and his sister were in their early twenties.

yes , i would be hanging out in the back room laughing my ass off
and ready to give my friend shit when he came back.

what this has to do with ethyl oleate i don't know, but i do know that the father and mother were not raising healthy, capable, fully functioning soon to be adults, they were maintaining some kind of co-dependant nightmare that probably ends up in parents divorcing, son in jail for abusing drugs and daughter on the public rolls with 4 kids all by different guys that have no relationship with their kids.

i say probably because i didn't stick around to find out.
Yeah, I guess some guys get off on creating dependency, but the aftereffects indeed aren't that cool.

It's like we have minitiaturized forms of slavery and bondage all around.

To the extremes of supporting yourself, I've mingled a little bit with extremely rich self made men and trust fund babies alike. Although at some point in time, a snapshot of their bank account look similar, they couldn't be any more different as people.

The people who grow bottom up into their own top down goals are usually a pleasure, whereas quite a few trust fund babies (the ones who never did anything with their lives before they gained access to their trust) are bizarre, and sometimes abusive miscreants.

Most trust fundies usually can't wait to get rid of their money (sometimes they won't admit to this consciously, but definitely they definitely express this through their behavior, regardless - i.e., ethology) whereas self made men can't help but get richer and richer... even if they go bankrupt for some reason, they certainly don't stay that way.

It's almost like you can murder someone's potential by giving them too much. Considering the line of work your in, you must see this, certainly. Maybe there's a way to organize such giving so it helps instead of hinders?

It reminds me of the American Indians, some of which had enough awareness to break out of these top down imposed patterns.

Many tribes have now realized that the Bureau of Land management's funding kept them down and powerless. Just enough money to get drunk and throw their lives away. They started to realize that outside "support" often meant "poison arrows". Each dollar like a trojan horse; warm and cozy like a poisoned blanket.

It's the tribes that took the plunge and refused such support that have now built a myriad of businesses on their land and made good of themselves, often rapidly. They grew legs, learned how to crawl, and then run.

I'm impressed, actually, at how quickly some were able to turn themselves around.

While there are exceptions to every "rule" (because, ultimately, every circumstance is unique), it does seem that self-esteem and being healthy overall is very much connected to making your own choices and earning your own way.

It's also incredible how concepts like codepency have made their way into the the minds and vocabulary of psychologists but not sociologists.
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  #6  
By josef on December 19th, 2005, 03:37 PM
Default Re: New pheromone creates buzz about the clout of older bees

Quote:
Originally Posted by MHarris
It's almost like you can murder someone's potential by giving them too much. Considering the line of work your in, you must see this, certainly. Maybe there's a way to organize such giving so it helps instead of hinders?
it is a regular and unfortunate occurence. a waste really. the most unfortunate side effect is that even though you can donate your estate to a charitable cause instead of a wreckless teen, in this day and age you are very likely to be donating to a wasteful charitable cause.

if i haven't spent everything that i earn by the time i die, there will be a performance based charitble trust set up to administer anything left over, most likely in a third world country. my hope is to encounter less of a sense of entitlement and more of a feeling of thankfulness at having been given an opportunity. the trust would only allow for skill training and higher level education, no handouts.
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  #7  
By MHarris on December 19th, 2005, 04:27 PM
Default Re: New pheromone creates buzz about the clout of older bees

Quote:
Originally Posted by josef
it is a regular and unfortunate occurence. a waste really. the most unfortunate side effect is that even though you can donate your estate to a charitable cause instead of a wreckless teen, in this day and age you are very likely to be donating to a wasteful charitable cause.

if i haven't spent everything that i earn by the time i die, there will be a performance based charitble trust set up to administer anything left over, most likely in a third world country. my hope is to encounter less of a sense of entitlement and more of a feeling of thankfulness at having been given an opportunity. the trust would only allow for skill training and higher level education, no handouts.
Very interesting comments, considering your background. Thank you.

I know how wasteful charities can be internally. What's worse, is sometimes they create dependency, too, whereas what I want to see in the world are chains being broken. More freedom and happiness for all.

You can catch me caught giving to organizations like trickleup.org, because they provide seed money for microbusinesses in third world countries. Seems like a keen idea to me. I hope they're not wasteful yet (I know I can check on their filings in more detail sometime).

Wish there were more organizations dead set on helping people enough so, eventually, should the charity succeed at it's goal... nobody would need that charity anymore (or they'd need it far, far less than when it began).

It's realy the old teaching a man to fish vs. giving them fish thing. The first works you out of a job by actually empowering people, the second gives you a job you'll like at first, but one that you'll eventually despise.
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  #8  
By josef on December 19th, 2005, 05:37 PM
Default Re: New pheromone creates buzz about the clout of older bees

Quote:
Originally Posted by MHarris
Wish there were more organizations dead set on helping people enough so, eventually, should the charity succeed at it's goal... nobody would need that charity anymore (or they'd need it far, far less than when it began).

a few liberal leaning government social programs come to mind as perpetual charities, rather than the intended purpose of being a safety net to catch and then release.

as long as the "i gots ta get mines" mentality prevails however, there will always be vultures ready to pounce on the social taxes imposed on the industrious.

oh well. know the rules if you want to play the game,i guess. if you don't wish to play the game by their rules anymore you just pick up and move to belize.
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