To accelerate crop productivity, honey bees are being instructed to sniff sunflowers. In Argentina, researchers from the University of Buenos-Aires, have revealed that bees, like sniffer dogs, can pick up odors which makes honeybees ultimate crop boosters. Now, the researchers expect that training the bees will help in improving their efficiency in the process of pollination.
The honey bee colonies were fed a synthetic scented food that mimics the scent of a sunflower. Then it turned out that these bees visit sunflowers more repeatedly, which led to a noticeable increase in crop yields.
Researchers have said that these results could be interesting news for other crops and plants as well that also depend on pollination like apple or almond.
The research head Walter Farina said:
We showed that it is possible to train bees for the smell produced in the colony, later this will change their behavior toward that odor and they will become habitual to that.
The crops which have a prolonged period of growth will show a significant increase in crop yield like in the case of sunflower, bees showed prolonged foraging preference.
Bees Have Long Term Stable Memory
Farina and the team have a good previous record of research about bees and their role in agriculture. Previously they claimed that the bees have long-term and stable memory and are capable of storing food odors they encounter in the hive. These odors later influence the bees to visit that specific plant habitually.
Recently, Farina utilized his understanding of in-hive bee memory to train the bees with a specific odor, leading to a new research on foraging predilections. They actively manipulated the bees with an artificial odor of sunflower, leading to frequent visits of bees to sunflowers and bring more pollen to the hive.
There is a significant change in yield from 29% to 57% has been observed in the sunflower under study.
Farina and the team are now started investigating how these results can be applied to other plants that depend on pollination. By using scent simulants, scientists anticipate enhancing overall pollination efficiency as the rapidly changing climate keeps threatening pollinators like bees.