The Bee-tter Truth: interactive session on bees

The Ecological Society of IISER-TVM (ESI) and the BEE Lab organised an interactive session for the students to get to know more about honey bees in general, and the giant honey bees (which are found on campus) in particular. The session addressed the need to co-exist with the bees, which have been reported to be sharply declining across the country, following which Hema and Dr Ravi Maruthachalam interacted with the students. Hema spoke about the need to conserve and co-exist with the bees, and Ravi gave interesting insights into honey collection from different part of the world, and the biochemical properties of honey which confers its medicinal properties.

Sensory ecology at Lund

Asmi and Sajesh attended the international postgraduate course on  Sensory Ecology at Lund University, Sweden from 24 September to 7 October 2018.  Asmi presented her poster on “Spatial resolution of Indian stingless bee, Tetragonula iridipennis” and Sajesh on “Nest site choice in the giant honey bee Apis dorsata“.

Njut av!

The Third Doctor

On 26th September, Bharat successfully defended his PhD thesis before his  opponent Prof. Mewa Singh from the University of Mysore and his examiners committee. Bharat’s thesis titled ‘Collective behavior in the inbred social spider, Stegodyphus sarasinorum’ covered the dispersal dynamics, personality types, intra-individual plasticity in prey-capture, prey-type based contextual differences in group hunting and finally the social networks among the social spiders S. sarasinorum. After an elaborate presentation followed by questions and interesting discussions which went for more than an hour, Bharat has now become the third successful graduate student from the BEE Lab with two published papers and three more in the pipeline.

Fresh from the press!

Bharat and Shivani recently added to their published work (click for the spider and Myristica articles).

Bharat’s paper discusses a novel and non-invasive method for accurately estimating group sizes of social spider colonies using X-rays. Exposure to the rays did not lead to significant behavioural changes or reduced survival.



Shivani’s study explores the strategies that permit successful pollination by deceit in a dioecious swamp specialist species. Male trees produce 1000 times more flowers than female plants, and they flower for a longer duration. Pollinators cannot distinguish between the male and female flowers, and this leads to chance visits to female flowers, thus leading to successful pollination.

Almut’s lab visit

Almut Kelber visited the lab from 21 Jul – 02 Aug. The students from BEE Lab had a series of discussion sessions with Almut, who provided them with valuable inputs. While in India, she also visited the field sites in Chittoor, Andhra Pradesh, and gave a talk at NCBS, Bengaluru.

New faces in the lab

Amal, Dilshad and Sruthi joined the lab for their final year major project. More details on their work will be updated shortly!!!