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Designing Mazes for Bumblebees


I'm taking a break from work for a few minutes. I've spent the day reading papers and settling details for my first experiment. To the right is a picture of the fetching critter I am working with now. To be completely unscientific for a moment, I'd like to say that bumblebees are super cute.

I've been working on a design for a maze for the bees to crawl through. I am trying to get a scenario where I can force them to make multiple dichotomous choices (like 8 or 10), and where I can change the stimuli and the reward values. It also needs to be easy to clean and fit in a table.

I think I have something worked out and made a little mock-up out of heavy paper to check my dimensions. Of course, with any animal experiment, all sorts of annoying and unexpected things can go wrong. Getting it to fit on one table is going to be a stretch... one choice segment is about 10 inches long, so multiple that by 10 and you get a maze that's more than 8 ft long. Maybe I can do something to shorten that.

On the other hand, I spent part of the day ordering colored craft foam. Its washable and will make excellent colored stimuli, if I can get some colors that the bees will like, and will like equally (or nearly equally). Of course, while I'm designing and decorating these mazes, perhaps the bees would appreciate some crystal chandeliers and and maybe a honey water fountain? Passed silver trays of tiny pollen balls?

For the weather update, its a mere 94F outside, and yet my office is cold. The bike ride home will make up for that. At least I have a few hours before I attempt that little round of fun. And tomorrow is very exciting: I get hot water again. Yippeee! When I was setting up the utilities for the house, I had no idea that the only gas powered anything was the hot water heater. So I've been dealing with cold showers since I moved in since it takes more than 5 business days to get on the schedule for gas hook ups.

Alright, break over. Its back to the grind for me. Since I'm nice and brain dead, this seems like the perfect time to count fly eggs.

3 comments:

Tripletmom said...

Makes me wonder why on earth anyone would want to make mazes for bees?

Can't you use an 8' table?

Have fun and don't get stung!

Milja said...

Because they're going to look so darned CUTE walking through mazes. I got them ordered today and now I'm waiting on a mass of plexiglas.

What I'm doing is studying when an animal should learn and when an animal should just stick with one choice and not try anything else. With the mazes, I can test things like how much they get rewarded (lots of sugar, not so much sugar), and how often those rewards change in the world. I'm pretty excited.

I hope I don't get stung!

Tripletmom said...

LOL - good luck not getting stung!

I was picturing that you were studying bee behavior so that people who raise bees can put up certain colors around the crops they want pollinated, lol!

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