You have probably heard that bumblebees can’t fly, at least not theoretically. They do so anyway, because they don’t know that they can’t! Well, this is not really true, even though it is a very nice story. Bumblebees are pollinating insects and are actually amazingly good at flying. Although they have very small brains they have the ability to navigate through the vegetation, avoid obstacles such as leaves and plant stems, fly towards and finally land safely on a flower. This requires excellent flight control.
Relatively much is known about how flying insects control their flight under the light spectrum of the natural sky, but not so much is known about how they are affected when light levels fall, or when the wavelength spectrum changes as it does during sunset.
My research will focus on the ability of bumblebees to control their flight and to pollinate flowers at low light levels. What is the lowest light level at which they can still fly, and how different can the light spectrum be before their flight performance and pollination behavior collapse?
I started to study Molecular Biology in Lund in 2006, and did my master’s thesis within the Lund Vision group in 2010. In this work, I studied which cues a South African dung beetle rely on for its navigation. This was incredibly interesting and lots of fun and really inspired me to continue with behavioral research in insects. I started my PhD in April in 2011.