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Archive for the ‘Beetwixt & Beetween’ Category

Many animals understand numbers at a basic level for use in essential tasks such as foraging, shoaling, and resource management. However, complex arithmetic operations, such as addition and subtraction, using symbols and/or labelling have only been demonstrated in a limited number of nonhuman vertebrates.

Honeybees have a miniature brain with less than 1 million neurons – compared to humans with over 80 billion.  New research (see below) shows that honeybees can learn to use blue and yellow as symbolic representations for addition or subtraction. In a free-flying environment, individual bees use this information to solve unfamiliar problems involving adding or subtracting one element from a group of elements.

This ability requires bees to acquire long-term rules and use short-term working memory. Given that honeybees and humans are separated by over 400 million years of evolution, the findings suggest that advanced numerical cognition may be more accessible to nonhuman animals than previously suspected.

And that humans and honeybees might well share a common ancestor from 600 million years ago that was just as smart!

From: “Numerical cognition in honeybees enables addition and subtraction”

by:

https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/5/2/eaav0961

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On 28th September, I gave a talk to the London Dowsers.

It was the first opportunity to present the results of my efforts to replicate the amazing work done by John Harding who first introduced himself to me through this blog several years ago.

The content might be seen as some to be a bit “woo-woo” or unscientific.  However, in my experience, the honeybee is here to be a guide for us to show us the “space between” and there are plenty of stories in the video that illustrate the point.

You can watch a screencast of the lecture if you click on the video below:

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There are many collective nouns for a group of bees:

  • bike of bees
  • charm of bees
  • cluster of bees
  • an erst of bees
  • game of bees
  • grist of bees
  • hive of bees
  • hum of bees
  • nest of bees
  • rabble of bees
  • swarm of bees

Source: https://socratic.org/questions/what-is-a-collective-noun-for-bees

Which one do readers like/prefer?  I love the “charm of bees” – for that is what they are!

However, my favourite collective noun remains a “congregation of drones” – as in a Drone Congregation Area.

I found this analysis of Drone Congregation Areas (DCAs) from a study done on Puerto Rico:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3635128/

The conclusions are confusing and inconclusive and the way that the drones find the same sites year-after-year is still an area of study that is fascinating for me.

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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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‘Your Lord inspired the bee, saying: “Make your homes in the mountains, in the trees, and in the hives which men shall build for you.  Feed on every kind of fruit, and follow the trodden paths of your Lord.”  From its belly comes forth a syrup of different hues, a cure for men.  Surely in this there is a sign for those who would take thought.’

From the Quran, The Bee, 16:68

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“Perhaps the one stage in bee-keeping that requires the least protection and minimum of courage is “swarm catching” – that is, taking natural swarms after they have alighted in a cluster on a bush or other object they have chosen for the purpose.  To me, it is one of the most interesting sights in Nature to watch a swarm leaving the parent stock, rising on the wing, and performing beautiful, mazy evolutions like a country dance mid-air, to the accompaniment of a soft, melodious, gentle hum, so indicative of peace, goodwill, and enjoyment at the prospect of establishing a successful home of their own; the main body keeping up these beautiful movements whilst the scouts are flying hither and thither in search of a suitable spot on which to alight; and then to see them hasten to a bush in thousands, and threading in and out amongst foliage, and now here, and there, until the scouts trumpet forth the call to assemble.  I have never yet discovered that call, but it must be well known to the bees; for when the spot on which to alight is found, and the call is made, you will see all the bees that are on the wing head towards it, even those that form the most distant circle.

Screen Shot 2016-02-28 at 11.07.49

When the place of assemblage is found, what a change takes place in their song! from the gentle, peaceful hum to one of ecstatic delight.  Note again, if the bees have made up their mind to go farther afield to form a new home, there will be a change in their movements and their song.  Instead of making easy, graceful movements to and fro. the whole swarm will become agitated, the scouts will be called in, and their song becomes one of great disappointment, not to them, but to you, when you see your cherished hope rising in the air like a solid mass, and with a sharp cry and rapid movement they make for – you know not where.  “But,” you say, ” I was given to understand that bees were always led by the queen – that she gave the call, and directed their movements; – is not that why  they beat the tom-tom or ring the frying-pan with the door key?”  Not a bit of it.  That is an old superstition, grown out of a custom declaring the ownership of a swarm of bees when on the wing.  It was equal to the ringing of a bell and saying, “This is to give notice these bees belong to me.”  I have more than once seen the queen on a leaf some feed from where the swarm was clustering.  I have seen her parading to and fro on a rail while the swarm was clustering on the post, the bees paying not the slightest attention to her.  At other times I have seen her alight on the cluster and burrow in amongst them.  Evidently she has been on the wing for some time after the main body had settled.”

From: Australian Beelore and Bee Culture by Albert Gale (Late Bee Expert and Lecturer on Apiculture to the New South Wales Government).  Published in 1912.  Extracted from: Chapter XV – Swarm Catching, Hiving and Transferring pp,86-89

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A friend sent me a link to a beautifully illustrated book with a poem from Francis Bacon.  Click on the illustration and it will take you to a page where you can download the book.

The Bee Takes a Middle Way

 

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