This file photo taken on May 31, 2015 shows a bumblebee collecting pollen from a cherry blossom in a garden outside Moscow. / AFP / YURI KADOBNOV
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The odour in their tiny footprints is so potent that other bees can detect it hours after they had visited a flower, a team wrote in the journal Scientific Reports.Adding to the intrigue, experiments showed that bumblebees can distinguish the smell of their own feet from those of other bees."This is the first time it has been shown that bumblebees can tell the difference between their scent and the scent of their family members" or unrelated peers, said study co-author Richard Pearce of the University of Bristol.This means the insects can detect who had recently visited a flower – they themselves, or a different bee.In three different experiments, the "flowers" were laced with different foot aromas and the bees taught to associate each smell with either a nectar reward, or none.
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