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Bees forage with their guts

Researchers show that a gene helps honeybees choose between nectar and pollen

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4:57pm, April 1, 2010

When faced with a choice between carb loading and a protein-rich, Atkins-style diet, honeybees let their guts decide.

Insulin signals from fat cells in the bees’ abdomens help determine whether they forage for high-protein pollen or sugar-filled nectar, a new study shows. The study, published April 1 in PLoS Genetics, is the first to manipulate insulin signals in honeybees and to show how changes in the signals influence behavior.

Reducing the activity of the insulin receptor substrate, or IRS, gene caused bees to forage more for pollen than for nectar, report researchers led by Gro Amdam, a biologis

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