• Pollen-collecting honeybee attempts landing on a cherry blossom
Chair of Behavioral Physiology & Sociobiology

Scheiner lab - Behavioral biology of the honeybee

Honey bees have been model organisms in behavioral biology for many decades. With their unique behavioral diversity, they offer ideal conditions for studying basic mechanisms of decision making and behavioral control. Since honey bees are found all over the world, we can use them to investigate the adaptation of behavior and their molecular basis. Our research focuses on social behavior, learning behavior and the adaptation of honeybees to their respective habitats.
We also study honeybees' taste perception and metabolism.

In addition to these questions, we are interested in the effects of plant protection products on the behavior of honeybees and are investigating new and sustainable ways to protect the bees from the varroa mite.


  • Molecular mechanisms of local adaptation to high-altitude habitats in the honeybee Apis mellifera
  • Identifying gene functions in honeybees through genetic knockout by CRISPR/Cas9
  • Effects of innovative beekeeping with reduced varroa mite treatment on the performance and vitality of honey bees in near-natural beekeeping
  • Role of larval nutrition in controlling division of labor in honeybees
  • Characterization of honeybee taste receptors
  • Effects of novel insecticides on the behavior of honeybees
  • Comparative analysis of the behavior of different European honeybee subspecies
  • Role of neurotransmitters in adaptation to elevational gradients (South Africa, Kenya)
  • Investigation of division of labor in the foraging behavior of different Asian honeybee species (Southern India)
  • Effects of hypterthermia treatment on the behavior of worker honeybees
  • The role of male pheromones in the orientation of honeybee drones
  • Mechanisms underlying individual consistency in learning across modalities
  • Synergistic effects of insecticides and fungicides on the behavior of honeybees and wild bees

Selected publications

  • 1.
    Değirmenci, L., Geiger, D., Keller, A., Krischke, B., Beye, M., Steffan-Dewenter, I., and Scheiner, R. (2020) CRISPR/Cas 9 mediated mutations as a new tool for studying taste in honeybees, Chemical Senses 45, 655–666.
  • 2.
    Scheiner, R., Frantzmann, F., Jäger, M., Mitesser, O., Helfrich-Förster, C., and Pauls, D. (2020) A Novel Thermal-Visual Place Learning Paradigm for Honeybees (<i>Apis mellifera</i>), Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience 14, 56.
  • 3.
    Hesselbach, H., Seeger, J., Schilcher, F., Ankenbrand, M., and Scheiner, R. (2020) Chronic exposure to the pesticide flupyradifurone can lead to premature onset of foraging in honeybees (<i>Apis mellifera</i>), Journal of Applied Ecology 57, 609–618.
  • 4.
    George, E. A., Bröger, A.-K., Thamm, M., Brockmann, A., and Scheiner, R. (2020) Inter-individual variation in honey bee dance intensity correlates with expression of the foraging gene, Genes, Brain and Behavior 19, e12592.
  • 5.
    Hesselbach, H., and Scheiner, R. (2018) Effects of the novel pesticide flupyradifurone (Sivanto) on honeybee taste and cognition, Scientific Reports 8, 4954.