"'Infectious agents often drain the host of nutrients, and hosts need energy to fight these infections, so when a bee is sick, it becomes hungry,' Naug says. 'Hunger alters their smell, just like we have keto smell [the bad breath caused by hunger or exercise] when we’re starving. And this makes sick and hungry bees drawn to other sick and hungry bees, while healthy and well-fed bees hang out with other healthy and well-fed bees. And, once again, this might restrict the spread of a disease.'
In other words, because hungry bees are sick bees, they tend to interact with other sick bees that smell like them, and avoid the healthy bees that don’t smell like them. 'Maybe that’s nature’s way of preventing disease transmission,' Naug says.
Naug is studying the social structure of bees and its influence on disease transmission under a National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) award, which he received in 2009 as part of NSF’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act."
Understanding Honeybee Diseases
By Marlene Cimons, National Science Foundation