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A flashy defense

There are many ways to ward off a predator, but perhaps none so enthusiastic as the Giant honeybee's team "wave." New research, linkurl:published this week;http://dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0003141 in PLoS One, demonstrates that a communal motion called the shimmering effect, in which hundreds of bees successively flip their abdomens upwards in a rapid wave, protects a hive by startling wasps away. "People have known for a long time that the Asian species of honeybees do this shimmering,

Megan Scudellari
There are many ways to ward off a predator, but perhaps none so enthusiastic as the Giant honeybee's team "wave." New research, linkurl:published this week;http://dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0003141 in PLoS One, demonstrates that a communal motion called the shimmering effect, in which hundreds of bees successively flip their abdomens upwards in a rapid wave, protects a hive by startling wasps away. "People have known for a long time that the Asian species of honeybees do this shimmering," said linkurl:Michael Breed,;http://www.colorado.edu/eeb/faculty/fac_breed.html an ecologist at the University of Colorado who was not involved in the study, "but nobody ever looked in a detailed way at how the behavior is organized or its exact relationship to the wasp." First author linkurl:Gerald Kastberger;http://www.kfunigraz.ac.at/zoowww/personal/kastberger/biog.htm believed the shimmering effect (which looks something like a crowd of tiny sports fans doing the wave) was a defensive reaction to an approaching hornet. "Giant honeybees nest out in the open," said Kastberger,...
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