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Alejandro Rico-Guevara in The New York Times on the versatility of honeybee tongues

Wednesday, August 12, 2020 - 15:30 to Thursday, November 12, 2020 - 15:30

Alejandro Rico-Guevara was featured in The New York Times for his contributing work on a new study showing that honeybees switch their feeding strategy to be more efficient with different types of nectar.

For a century, scientists have known how honeybees drink nectar. They lap it up.
They don’t lap like cats or dogs, videos of whose mesmerizing drinking habits have been one of the great rewards of high speed video. But they do dip their hairy tongues rapidly in and out of syrupy nectar to draw it up into their mouth. For the last century or so, scientists have been convinced that this is the only way they drink nectar.
Scientists have now discovered bees can also suck nectar, which is more efficient when the sugar content is lower and the nectar is less viscous. High-speed video of bees drinking a nectar substitute in a lab shows that not only do honeybees have this unexpected ability, they can go back and forth from one drinking mode to another.
What Dr. Rico-Guevara found most interesting was that the bees are so sensitive to the viscosity of the nectar that “they switch at the exact point you would expect, to get the best reward for the energy invested.”
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