Bumblebees are amazing insects that can find their home by smell. This was proven in an experiment conducted by researchers from Bielefeld University and published in Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience.
Bumblebees use their eyesight to select flowers to collect pollen, but their main sense organ is their sense of smell. The experiment showed that bumblebees can use smell to find their home when visual information is unavailable or inconsistent.
The experiment was conducted in a laboratory, where a closed “flight arena” with landmarks for bumblebees was created. After the landmarks were changed and the entrance to the nest was closed and camouflaged, the bumblebees could not find it. However, when a bumblebee scent marker was added, the insects immediately found the entrance.
The researchers found that the smell is generated by a bouquet of hydrocarbons, fatty acids and other substances that bumblebees use to communicate with congeners.
This discovery could have important implications for understanding insect navigation and developing new methods to protect plants from pests. It could also lead to new methods for training robots that can use scent to find their way.