The making of a social insect – the regulatory architectures of social design
Both humans and social insects cooperate to remarkable extents. This complex social lifestyle proves highly adaptable, allowing both to flourish on all habitable continents. We boast brains capable of storing a million gigabytes. The complexity of our processing units makes it difficult to unravel the subtle, intricate ways humans interact. Yet the intricate social system of a honey bee hive evolves from the interaction of thousands of individuals, each controlled by a small brain not much more complex than an early desktop computer.
Wonderfully intricate, but simple enough to try and pick apart! Our lab experimentally investigates honey bee social structure to understand how communal living evolved from ancestral solitary forms of life. As we have come to a better understanding of the physiology and genetics of bees, we have expanded our research interests: the honey bee (Apis mellifera) makes an ideal model organism for understanding the regulation of social life-history, aging and epigenetics.