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Creating a buzz in animal behaviour.

At NTU, our research is listening in new ways and hearing nature’s answers to our questions.

By placing ultra-sensitive vibrational sensors into the hearts of beehives, our researchers have discovered that queen bees ‘toot’ loudly to let worker bees know they need to protect a new mobile queen from rivals.

Held captive in their queen cells by the workers to prevent infighting, the rival ‘virgin queens’ then respond to this tooting with a ‘quack’ – which researchers say is the signal to the colony that they are ready and waiting to replace the queen as soon as she leaves.

The non-invasive investigation also heard clues which may help to predict honeybee swarming and shed new light on the reasons for the queen bees ‘piping’ in the hive.

This fascinating work has reimagined research in the area of honeybee swarming. It has also demonstrated the complexity and the beauty of chemical and acoustical communication among honeybees and given us greater insight into their ability to coherently behave as a colony.

This research area was expanded upon for a submission to the Engineering Unit of Assessment in the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021, where 98% of the research was rated as world-leading or internationally excellent.


Sustainable Futures

This project is drawn from the strategic research theme of Sustainable Futures.

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Groups and centres

Centre for Animal, Rural and Environmental Sciences Research

Now more than ever, our planet is facing some tough challenges. With a growing population putting inevitable pressure on the Earth’s resources, plotting the path to a sustainable future has never been more vital. We’re committed to developing research and innovation which can make a meaningful difference.

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