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E. Drug Companies May Benefit from Bee Communication Research

Narrator: This is Science Today. A Brazil-based study of stingless bees offers new insight into communication strategies when competing for food. James Nieh, an assistant professor of biology at the University of California , San Diego , says bees use two main forms of communication: sounds or dances within the hive or by leaving scent markings outside to lead the rest of the hive to food sources.

Nieh: In the research we have been doing, we found this interesting strategy where some bees don't produce a complete trail. They in fact create a short trail that just points from the nest towards the food source. But only in the last 50 or so meters to the food source, so there is a big gap there. My idea is perhaps this makes it harder to find for other bees.

Narrator: Nieh says their research may benefit drug companies interested in the medicinal value of stingless bee honey and resin.

Nieh: Knowing more about their communication system, how they find these flowers and bring back these nectars, which may have medicinal compounds, may help us.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.