Honeybees stress each other out by warning about harmless parasites

Honeybees (Apis mellifera) release warning pheromones in response to parasitic infection

William Mullins / Alamy

Honeybees produce a warning pheromone when parasites infect their hives – and the social stress caused by the warning might be more devastating than the parasites themselves.

A one-cell fungus called Nosema ceranae can infect the guts of individual bees, causing a disease called nosemosis. Similar to tapeworm infections in humans, nosemosis apparently makes bees hungrier and reduces their resistance to pesticides and probably viruses, but it is not particularly fatal. Yet, nosemosis is one of the top reasons honeybee…

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