UNCC Professor Studies How Bee Colonies Select Mates for Queens

Newsobserver. com    By Lisa Thornton    February 22, 2015 

UNC Charlotte Professor Stan Schneider bred both high-quality (large-size) and low quality (small-size) drones, and then introduced them into his colonies for observation. (Courtesy Stan Schneider)

A peek into the bedrooms of queen honeybees might one day lead to lower grocery bills.

In learning ways to keep nature's best pollinators in abundance, scientists have begun studying more intimately the nature of bees' relationships with one another, including how they choose their mates. What they discover might help keep the insects' counts from dropping drastically, a problem that would lead to lower quality and quantities of the foods they pollinate - and also to higher prices.

"We won't starve if honeybees disappear because we'll have wind-pollinated grains, but the variety of our diet and the healthiness of our diet would be negatively impacted, and food would become much more expensive," said UNC Charlotte professor Stan Schneider, an animal behaviorist who specializes in honeybee communication.

The honeycomb suite

Schneider's laboratory, a series of glass-encased hives containing more than 12,000 honeybees, has become the buzz for research on how bees choose who will create their future generations.

It's not as simple as two star-crossed honeybees locking glances across a crowded honeycomb. It's more of a...