Research areas


Cellular neurobiology of learning in the honeybee

We analyze the cellular basis of memory formation. To this end, we study the physiology of identified neurons and their regulation by neuromodulators at different levels: Ion currents, calcium signals, molecular biology and computer simulations. Systemic and applied aspects are particularly important to us. In behavioral experiments, we investigate the control of behavior by higher brain centers behaviorally pharmacologically or by local lesions.

Interaction of nurse bees and larvae

In long-term video recordings, we review the behaviors of bees within cells during cooperative brood care. Artificial intelligence analyses calssify the type and duration of visitation and show how colony dynamics change when exposed to stressors such as insecticides, acaricides, or parasites. In perspective, we want to track every behavior of every bee in a colony.

Cholinergic signals in honey bee development

The cholinergic system is a popular target of insecticides because the pharmacology of insect nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) differs significantly from that of their vertebrate counterparts. In addition to their effects on behavior, it is becoming increasingly clear that neonicotinoids affect developmental processes in bees that appear to be independent of neuronal AChRs. Brood food produced in the hypopharyngeal glands of nurse bees (royal jelly, worker or drone jelly) contains millimolar concentrations of ACh, which is required for proper larval development.

Habitats for wild pollinators

We investigate the suitability of certain environments as habitat for wild pollinators by monitoring exemplary nest growth of ground bumblebee (Bombus terrestris) colonies at the respective sites. In particular, the combination with vegetation analyses of candidate host plants during the experimental period, allows a sound assessment of the sites. We focus on the comparison of urban and semi-urban sites as two typical examples of anthropogenic environments.

Bee colony vitality study (EU)

In this project, funded by the EU and the state of Hesse, we are monitoring the vitality of bee colonies exposed to increasing environmental stressors such as heat, drought, or lack of food. This is made possible by documenting characteristics of colonies at different locations, including their learning behavior and sugar threshold response. We are thus exploring the robustness of beekeeping in the future.

Scientific networks

– Interdisciplinary Center for Neuroscience

– Rhine-Main Neuroscience Network rmn2

– Arbeitsgemeinschaft der Institute für Bienenforschung

– BioFrankfurt

Regionale Kooperationen

– Hessenwasser GmbH & Co. KG

– Stadtwerke Oberursel (Taunus) GmbH

– Opel-Zoo Kronberg

– Freilichtmuseum Hessenpark

– MainÄppelhaus Lohrberg

– Zoo Frankfurt

– Gymnasium Oberursel

– BioFrankfurt

– Künstlergruppe Finger