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Author Topic: Flax Oil and Nestmate Recognition  (Read 455 times)

Offline JWChesnut

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Flax Oil and Nestmate Recognition
« on: July 22, 2013, 06:19:42 PM »
Interesting paper published in 2012 on using flax seed oil to suppress fighting between combined colonies.

Abstract reads:
Use of Flax Oil to Influence Honey Bee Nestmate Recognition
Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, The University of Colorado, Boulder,
Boulder, CO 80309-0334
J. Econ. Entomol. 105(4): 1145Ð1148 (2012); DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1603/EC12009
ABSTRACT Fatty acids, normally found in comb wax, have a strong influence on nestmate recognition
in honey bees, Apis mellifera L. Previous work has shown that bees from different colonies,when
treated with 16- or 18-carbon fatty acids, such as oleic, linoleic, or linolenic acids, are much less likely
to fight than bees from two colonies when only one of the two is treated. Previous work also shows
that the influence of comb wax on recognition has practical applications; transfer of empty comb
between colonies, before merger of those colonies, reduces fighting among workers within the merged
colony. Flax oil contains many of the same fatty acids as beeswax. Here, we tested the hypothesis that
treatment of individual bees with flax oil affects nestmate recognition; the results proved to be
consistent with this hypothesis and showed that treated bees from different colonies were less likely
to fight than untreated bees. These results suggest that flax oil may be useful in facilitating colony

Offline sawdstmakr

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Re: Flax Oil and Nestmate Recognition
« Reply #1 on: July 23, 2013, 03:08:27 PM »
Sounds interesting but they did not say how they did it.
"If you don't read the newspaper you are uninformed.  If you do read the newspaper you are misinformed."--Mark Twain

Offline JWChesnut

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Re: Flax Oil and Nestmate Recognition
« Reply #2 on: July 23, 2013, 03:46:03 PM »
Fair-use Extract from the paper (which requires journal access):
Guards and foragers were captured using forceps to
gently clasp their legs. They were individually placed
into clear plastic bags (0.5 liter; 15 by 15 cm) and were
labeled with their colony number. A subset of guards
and foragers were placed in plastic bags containing a
piece of filter paper that had been treated with 0.01 ml
of flax oil (Whole Foods) and were considered
treated. Those designated to be untreated were placed
with a plain piece of filter paper. The filter paper was
placed in the corner of each bag, and the bee was coaxed
onto the filter paper. The corner of the bag was then
folded over to ensure full contact between the bee and
the filter paper. Bees were left in contact with the filter
paper for 5.0 min, timed with a stopwatch. This period of
time was found to be effective for changing recognition
templates in previous experiments (Breed et al. 2004a).

To conclude, these findings have the potential to be
a new, useful addition to beekeeping practices. Our
results suggest that the treatment of weak colonies
with flax oil, before merger, will reduce the emergence
of fights among the worker bees and increase the
probability of successful mergers. Similarly, if split
colonies are left in the same apiary, treatment of one
of the colonies may prevent worker drift between the
two colonies and worker abandonment of one of the
colonies. The commercial availability of flax oil as a
food supplement makes such manipulations safe, inexpensive,
and easy. The potential economic value of
such manipulations lies in salvaging bees that otherwise
might be lost in weak colonies, or in increasing
the likelihood of success of colony splits. Further experiments
should involve tests of the effectiveness of
flax oil in such colony manipulations.