James Nieh To Speak at the Los Angeles County Beekeepers Association Meeting October 7, 2019

Honey Bee Research

Professor James Nieh

Professor James Nieh

Research in the Nieh lab focuses on how natural and man-made stressors affect the biology of and cognitively sophisticated behaviors exhibited by bees. Our research focuses on two areas: (1) the selective pressures that may have shaped the evolution of communication in highly social bees and (2) honey bee health. We use the tools of Behavioral Ecology, Chemical Ecology, Animal Communication and Neuroethology to work with bumble bees, stingless bees, and honey bees. Five different topic areas are detailed below. For further information, please view the Nieh Lab Homepage.

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Evolution of Communication
Selective pressures from competitors and predators has shaped social bee communication. Our lab studies multiple bee groups: honey bees, stingless bees, and bumble bees to learn how this communication works and why it may have evolved.

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Honey Bee Health
Concern is growing over pollinator declines. Our lab examines the effects of natural stressors, such as pathogens, and man-made stressors, such as pesticides, on honey bee health, foraging, flight, and orientation.

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Superorganism Inhibitory Communication
What happens if conditions change and the communicated food source becomes depleted, contested, or dangerous? The honey bee stop signal provides inhibition  that counteracts the positive feedback of honey bee waggle dances. Using field studies and modeling, we are studying this signal in detail and exploring conditions under which inhibitory signals may evolve.

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Superorganism Inhibitory Communication
We study olfactory eavesdropping in stingless bees and honey bees and examine the advantages of eavesdropping upon competitors and predators.

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Neuroethology of Bee Learning and Memory
Despite their small brain size and limited number of neurons relative to the central nervous systems of many vertebrates, social insects have evolved sophisticated learning and memory abilities and are therefore important models for animal cognition. However, these abilities can be impaired by field-realistic exposure to pesticides and other man-made stressors.

http://biology.ucsd.edu/research/faculty/jnieh