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Archive for the ‘Bee-ology’ Category

Samson’s riddle is a riddle that appears in the biblical narrative about Samson.

Samson posed the riddle to his thirty Philistine guests, in these words: “Out of the eater, something to eat; out of the strong, something sweet” (Judges 14:14).

Samson S

Samson slaying the lion by Dore

The riddle was based on a private experience of Samson, who killed a lion and after a while found bees and honey in its corpse.

(It is very interesting that there are other ancient references to bees taking up home in the dead carcasses of bulls and horses.  Perhaps the cavity and protection from nature provided an ideal home in areas where there were not so many trees or crevices?)

The Philistines, who could not solve the riddle, blackmailed the answer from Samson’s wife, who persuaded Samson to tell it to her.

“What is sweeter than honey? What is stronger than a lion?” (Judges 14:18) is the answer to the riddle.

Most of text from: Wikipedia

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Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) is a major threat to bee colonies around the world and affects their ability to perform vital human food crop pollination. It has been a cause of urgent concern for scientists and farmers around the world for at least a decade but a specific cause for the phenomenon has yet to be conclusively identified.

Bees usually begin foraging when they are 2-3 weeks old but when bee colonies are stressed by disease, a lack of food, or other factors that kill off older bees, the younger bees start foraging at a younger age.

Researchers attached radio trackers to thousands of bees and tracked their movement throughout their lives. They found that bees that started foraging younger completed less foraging flights than others and were more likely to die on their first flights.

The researchers, from Queen Mary University of London (QMUL), Macquarie University in Sydney, Washington University in St Louis, and University of Sydney, used this information to model the impact on honey bee colonies.

They found that any stress leading to chronic forager death of the normally older bees led to an increasingly young foraging force. This younger foraging population lead to poorer performance and quicker deaths of foragers and dramatically accelerated the decline of the colony much like observations of CCD seen around the world.

Dr Clint Perry from the School of Biological and Chemical Sciences at QMUL, said:

“Young bees leaving the hive early is likely to be an adaptive behaviour to a reduction in the number of older foraging bees. But if the increased death rate continues for too long or the hive isn’t big enough to withstand it in the short term, this natural response could upset the societal balance of the colony and have catastrophic consequences.

“Our results suggest that tracking when bees begin to forage may be a good indicator of the overall health of a hive. Our work sheds light on the reasons behind colony collapse and could help in the search for ways of preventing colony collapse.”

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Dear friends across Europe,

4270_Beeeee_SAM_1_460x230

In less than 36 hours, European countries will vote on plans to ban bee killing pesticides, but Bayer and other chemical giants are out in full force trying to protect their profits from needed safety regulation. Our governments are buckling under the pressure — let’s counteract the corporate bullying with a flood of messages to our Agriculture Ministers to save the bees! Send a message now:

btn_sendamessage

In less than 36 hours, the European Union will vote on whether to ban toxic pesticides that are killing bees around the world and threatening our food supply. The big corporations profiting from this vile stuff are lobbying furiously to defeat the ban and we’ve just heard that key governments are about to cave — unless they feel the sting of public opinion!

Bees are disappearing around the world at alarming rates. Because bees pollinate our crops, experts are warning that these mass deaths pose a catastrophic threat to our food supply. Thankfully, numerous studies have now identified the likely culprit: a certain class of noxious pesticides. An official EU report found that banning them could solve the problem, but pesticide giant Bayer is trying to convince our leaders to ignore the science to protect their profits.

Over 2.5 million of us have signed the petition that made this vote possible — and now it’s time to tell our politicians that they must side with science to save the bees this week. Let’s flood the inboxes of our Agriculture Ministers, drown out the corporate lobby, and make sure our governments saves the bees and our food — click below to send a message then share this urgent campaign with your friends:

http://www.avaaz.org/en/bye_bye_bees_eu_spread/?bWdzgdb&v=23040

Bees don’t just make honey, they are vital to life on earth, every year pollinating 90% of plants and crops and helping to generate an estimated $40bn value and over one-third of the food supply in many countries. Without immediate action to save bees, many of our favourite fruits, vegetables, and nuts could vanish from our shelves.

Last month the European Food Safety Authority gave the most compelling evidence yet that toxic chemicals called neonicotinoid pesticides could be responsible for the bee deaths. Italy has banned some uses of these bee-killing pesticides and has already seen it’s bee populations come back, but Bayer and Sygenta are lobbying to prevent a Euro-wide ban, for fears it would harm their global business. It seems they’re close to having the support of the UK, Spain, and Germany, who want to protect their biggest chemical corporations.

Now the issue is coming to a boil. Just weeks ago, Avaaz delivered a petition signed by over 2.5 million of us to the European Commission, who proposed a ban days later. EU parliamentarians are stepping up their pressure and several other European governments have announced plans to push ahead with new legislation to ban the deadly pesticides on their own. So we have the power to win this, but we need one final push to overcome the pesticide lobby. Send a message telling our governments to support the ban now and then share with others:

http://www.avaaz.org/en/bye_bye_bees_eu_spread/?bWdzgdb&v=23040

Our world is beset with threats to what makes it habitable, and to what fills it with wonder. The Avaaz community comes together to defend both — large or small. Whether winning a battle to keep the International Whaling Commission from sanctioning the murder of these giants, or saving bees, the tiny creatures upon which so much depends, we will come together and stand up for the world we all want.

With hope,

Iain, Marie, Pascal, Emma, Ricken, Alaphia, and the Avaaz team

MORE INFORMATION

EU Proposes ban on bee killer (The Telegraph)
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/earthnews/9840497/EU-proposes-ban-on-bee-killer-pesticide.html

Bayer slams draconian EU plans to ban neonicotinoids (Farmers weekly)
http://www.fwi.co.uk/articles/01/02/2013/137451/bayer-slams-39draconian39-eu-plan-to-ban-neonicotinoids.htm

Government to ignore European ban on neonicotinoid pesticides (Independent)
http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/green-living/government-to-ignore-european-ban-on-neonicotinoid-pesticides-8483916.html

The Battle to ban bee killers (Avaaz Daily Briefing)
http://en.avaaz.org/1326/eu-ban-bee-killing-pesticides-bayer 

Studies fault Bayer in bee die-off (Christian Science Monitor)
http://www.csmonitor.com/Science/2012/0406/Studies-fault-Bayer-in-bee-die-off

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A third of UK bee colonies have been lost over the last two years and there have been many explanations given for this. There is strong evidence that neonicotinoids – a class of pesticide first used in agriculture in the mid 1990s at exactly the time when mass bee disappearances started occurring – are involved in the deaths. The evidence against these chemicals is strong enough that they have been banned or suspended in France, Germany, Italy and Slovenia – but not yet in the UK.
Neonicotinoids work as an insecticide by blocking specific neural pathways in insects’ central nervous systems. The chemicals impair bees’ communication, homing and foraging ability, flight activity, ability to discriminate by smell, learning, and immune systems – all of which have an impact on bees’ ability to survive. 

It seems bees genetic make up makes them particularly vulnerable to neonicotinoids. Recent mapping of the bee genome has revealed that bees’ capacity to detoxify chemicals is much lower than other insects. Instead bees have two strategies to protect themselves. On the first day of foraging in a new area, scout bees are sent out first to taste the nectar and pollens – if any are adversely affected they will be expelled from the hive immediately, and the colony will avoid the area.

In addition, once foraging begins, nurse bees in the hive clean foragers each time they return. These strategies protect the colony from mass exposure to lethal doses of chemicals, but they do leave honey bees particularly susceptible to sub-lethal exposures to any contaminants they encounter.

The other really important factor is the complex behaviour of honeybee colonies. For example, the 10,000 forager bees in a typical hive need to co-ordinate their quest for nectar – and they do this through the famed ‘waggle dance’, which communicates the flight direction and distance to sources of nectar. The complexity and precision of these dances is breathtaking, and success relies on the integrity of a nervous system where each synapse is crucial. It is no surprise then that honey bees have been shown to have a higher number of neurological receptors than other insects.

Honey bees live and work as a colony, not as individuals; what seems to be happening is that the cumulative impact of small doses of nenoicotinoids on thousands of bees over time is affecting individual bee’s ability to work and communicate effectively as part of a colony. Because lots of bees in each colony are behaving sub-optimally this can lead to the sudden, and devastating, outcomes that we’ve been witnessing in recent years.

The Soil Association believes that there is already enough evidence to justify an immediate ban on neonicotinoids today.

Article from The Soil Association <HERE> – with addition PDF Download: Bee briefing: The evidence that neonicotinoids are implicated in colony collapse disorder in honey bees, and should be banned in the UK

Picture below from: http://www.cbgnetwork.org/2821.html

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American scientists have discovered that a fly parasite can turn honey bees into confused zombies before killing them, in an advance that could offer new clues to why bee colonies are collapsing.

So far, the parasite has only been detected in honey bees in California and South Dakota, American researchers reported in the open access science journalPLoS ONE this week.

But if it turns out to be an emerging parasite, that “underlines the danger that could threaten honey bee colonies throughout North America,” said the study led by San Francisco State University professor of biology John Hafernik.

Hafernik made the discovery by accident, when he foraged some bees from outside a light fixture at the university to feed to a praying mantis he’d brought back from a field trip.

“But being an absent-minded professor, I left them in a vial on my desk and forgot about them. Then the next time I looked at the vial, there were all these fly pupae surrounding the bees,” he said.

Soon, the bees began to die, but not in the usual way by sitting still and curling up. These bees kept trying to move their legs and get around, but they were too weak, said lead author Andrew Core, a graduate student in Hafernik’s lab.

“They kept stretching them out and then falling over,” said Core. “It really painted a picture of something like a zombie.”

Further study showed that bees that left their hives at night were most likely to become infected with the fly parasite, identified as Apocephalus borealis.

Once bees were parasitized by the fly, they would abandon their hives and congregate near lights, a very unusual behavior for bees.

More at: http://news.discovery.com/animals/parasite-bees-zombies-010512.html

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The singing bee comes like a little ship,

And docks beside a rose for cargoed wine,

Its gossamer paddles spinning in the air

A little plane upon the flower vine.

It anchors in the bell upon its quest,

And lulls its motor in the crimson bower,

Then with its honey glides on to the west,

A tiny airplane stealing off a flower.

.

Its paddles fan the wind in silver singing,

A boom of music down the garden dells;

The honey monoplane with motors ringing,

Its gauze propellers purring like soft bells;

And so it dips and soars and dives and noses,

A little ship among the summer roses.

.

by Edwin Curran (1892-????)

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What colors creatures see has long interested scientists, and aside from us, more is known about what colors bees see than any other living thing.  Like us, bees are trichromatic.  Whereas we base our color combinations on red, blue, and green, bees base all their colors on UV, blue , and green.  Just as color blind people do not see red or green, and therefore experience the world of color differently, bees also perceive the world in colors entirely different from ours.  Bees do not see red and have a hard time distinguishing it from surrounding green leaf backgrounds.  Bees that frequent red flowers are either perceive them in color they can see, or the red flower is not being lost against a green background.  Even though bees don’t see red, they can see other reddish wavelengths such as orange and yellow.

The light spectrum bees see is from 600 – 300 nm. The colors bees see are blue-green, blue, violet, and ultraviolet, with research showing our purple followed by our violet then our blue as their favorites. Mixing ultraviolet wavelengths with the wavelengths of colors they can and can’t see, gives bees a world of color different from our own.   If deprived of UV light, bees lose interest in foraging, and remain in the hive until forced out by severe food shortages.

Bees not only see flowers in different colors than we do, bees also see ultra-violet light patterns, invisible to us, at the center that are a different color than the rest of the flower.   From a bee’s-eye-view, the UV colors and patterns in a flower’s petals dramatically announce the flower’s stash of nectar and pollen.  These UV patterns serve as a landing zone, guiding the bees to the nectar source.

we see 
bees see
add in UV
red black uv purple
orange yellow/green*
yellow yellow/green* uv purple
green green
blue blue uv violet
violet blue uv blue
purple blue
white blue green
black black

*even the experts don’t agree as to what colour the bee sees!

Below is a fantastic link of photographs of flowers taken with Ultraviolet filters showing the landing patterns and flouresence.
The color of these uv flowers is dependant on the filter used by the photographer, and is not the color perceived by the bee.
Here is a picture of Arnica angustifolia Vahl as a human might see it:
And here is a picture of the same flower as a bee might see it – with an ultraviolet “bullseye” pattern to attract the bee:

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