Designing an artificial array of flowers for honey bee experiments

Are you interested in the project below? Awesome! PLEASE DO NOT APPLY THROUGH THE URO SITE. Instead, set up an interview with the prof/project advisor(s) as soon as possible. Then use this form: to send in your application by 5pm, December 10th. You may find it helpful to look at the form now before you start your application process.

Project overview: 

Honey bees are social insects with tens of thousands of bees per colony that have evolved amazing strategies to collectively solve problems. For example, they have a unique communication signal called a waggle dance that allows them to communicate the direction/distance to a rewarding resource. Scientists can "eavesdrop" on these conversations between bees and map the locations that dancing bees advertise. These maps can help us answer questions about honey bee foraging preferences across different landscapes. Previous work has shown that honey bees are more likely to perform a waggle dance if the nectar source that they visited was more profitable (greater ratio of energy gained to energy spent per foraging trip), which allows a colony of honey bees to focus its foraging efforts on the best resources. However, we do not know whether honey bee foragers also assess the size of a flower patch (and thus how many other bees could also exploit it) when deciding whether and how persistently to recruit their sister foragers. To address this question in controlled experiments, we need to design, build, and test an artificial array of "flowers" that will allow us to vary the size and number of artificial flowers per patch. The finished product will allow us to train individually-marked honey bee foragers to visit the array and determine how the artificial flower distribution influences the probability that a bee will dance and the number of repeated signals that she performs (see related project: Honey bee communication and collective decision-making).

Essay Prompts:

Please contact me to set up an interview, and apply through the Biology Research Form at this link:

Some things to consider for your interview:

What interests you most about the project, what do you hope to get out of the research project, and how does it fit with your long-term goals? 

How do your current skills and experience make you a good fit for the project?



Name of research group, project, or lab
Bee Lab
Why join this research group or lab?

The HMC Bee Lab is an interdisciplinary group that includes students from Biology, Engineering, CS, Math, and other fields studying a wide variety of questions about collective decision-making in both bees and ants. In this lab you will develop new skills and get a sense of many different kinds of research and approaches to answering questions. You could also potentially continue your work in a senior thesis project, present at regional or national conferences, and/or co-author a publication

Logistics Information:
Project categories
Student ranks applicable
Student qualifications


Some experience working on projects in the machine shop (and passed latest version of machine shop safety quiz)


Experience with 3D printing, CAD modeling, and laser cutting

Time commitment
Spring - Part Time
Academic Credit
Number of openings
Techniques learned

You will get experience with the process of learning project requirements, design, building, and testing what you have designed/built in the field (with our colonies of honey bees).

You will also learn to read/discuss scientific literature and to communicate across disciplinary boundaries and with the public about your work.


Contact Information:
Mentor name
Morgan Carr-Markell
Mentor email
Mentor position
Postdoctoral Fellow
Name of project director or principal investigator
Morgan Carr-Markell, Matina Donaldson-Matasci
Email address of project director or principal investigator
1 sp. | 0 appl.
Hours per week
Spring - Part Time
Project categories
Engineering (+1)