Thursday, 6 February 2014

Bees' Salt-Sensing Feet Explain Swimming Pool Mystery

By Stephanie Pappas, Senior Writer | February 04, 2014 04:13pm ET

The first-ever investigation of the honeybee ability to taste with their front feet may explain a persistent bee mystery: Why they swarm saltwater swimmingpools.

Saltwater swimming pools don't require chlorine or other chemicals, but online home and garden forums are full of complaints about these swimming holes' dark side. Apparently, they attract honeybees en masse. Now, scientists find that bees have taste receptors on their feet that are so sensitive to salt, that they even dwarf the bees' capacity to taste sweets.

"Our guess is they may not need to land on the water surface" to taste the salt, said study researcher Martin Giurfa, the director of the Research Center on Animal Cognition at the University of Toulouse in France. "They might just sense, with the tips of the legs, the presence of the salty solution and then decide to land."

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