Posts Tagged ‘Bees’

Bee Species Outnumber Mammals And Birds Combined

June 18, 2008

Scientists have discovered that there are more bee species than previously thought. In the first global accounting of bee species in over a hundred years, John S. Ascher, a research scientist in the Division of Invertebrate Zoology at the American Museum of Natural History, compiled online species pages and distribution maps for more than 19,200 described bee species, showcasing the diversity of these essential pollinators. This new species inventory documents 2,000 more described, valid species than estimated by Charles Michener in the first edition of his definitive The Bees of the World published eight years ago.

“The bee taxonomic community came together and completed the first global checklist of bee names since 1896,” says Ascher. “Most people know of honey bees and a few bumble bees, but we have documented that there are actually more species of bees than of birds and mammals put together.”

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Altruism In Social Insects Is A Family Affair

June 16, 2008

The contentious debate about why insects evolved to put the interests of the colony over the individual has been reignited by new research from the University of Leeds, showing that they do so to increase the chances that their genes will be passed on.

A team led by Dr Bill Hughes of the University’s Faculty of Biological Sciences studied ‘kin selection’ — the theory that an animal may pass on its genes by helping relatives to reproduce, because they share common genes, rather than by reproducing itself.

The concept of ‘kin selection’ was developed in 1964 by the evolutionary biologist Bill Hamilton, first proposed by Charles Darwin to explain, for example, why sterile workers evolved in social insect groups and why a honeybee would sacrifice its life to defend the colony. Charles Darwin recognized that such altruistic behaviour in highly social insect groups was at odds with his theory of natural selection, and Bill Hamilton’s theory of kin selection showed that this behaviour can evolve because it still fulfills the drive to pass on genes – but through relatives instead.

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Memory In Honeybees: What The Right And Left Antenna Tell The Left And Right Brain

June 8, 2008

It is widely known that the right and left hemispheres of the brain perform different tasks. Lesions to the left hemisphere typically bring impairments in language production and comprehension, while lesions to the right hemisphere give rise to deficits in the visual-spatial perception, such as the inability to recognize familiar faces.

In the last few years, we have become used to the idea that functional asymmetry between the left and right sides of the nervous system is not unique to humans: fishes, amphibians, birds and mammals have functional and anatomical asymmetries.

So, the idea that all vertebrate species, even non-human ones without any linguistic skills, have an asymmetric brain seems to be finally accepted. Now, this process of extension among species is going on and brain lateralization has been extended beyond the class Vertebrata. Insects, with their nervous system so different from that of vertebrates, are also “lateralized”, as shown in a paper published in PLoS ONE by Lesley J. Rogers of the Centre for Neuroscience and Animal Behaviour, University of New England (Australia), and Giorgio Vallortigara, of the Centre for Mind/Brain Sciences, University of Trento (Italy).

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Honeybee Dance Breaks Down Cultural Barrier

June 4, 2008

Asian and European honeybees can learn to understand one another’s dance languages despite having evolved different forms of communication, an international research team has shown for the first time.

The nine species of honeybees found worldwide separated about 30 to 50 million years ago, and subsequently developed different dance ‘languages’. The content of the messages is the same, but the precise encoding of these languages differs between species.

Now researchers from Australia, China and Germany have discovered that the two most geographically distant bee species — the European honeybee Apis mellifera and the Asian honeybee Apis cerana — can share information and cooperate to exploit new food sources.

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Honey Bee Losses Continue To Rise In U.S.

May 26, 2008

Colony Collapse Disorder, diseases, parasitic mites and other stressors continue to take a devastating toll on U.S. honey bee populations, but Pennsylvania beekeepers on average fared better than their counterparts nationally during this past winter, according to agriculture experts in Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences.

A recent survey by the Apiary Inspectors of America found that losses nationwide topped 36 percent of managed hives between September 2007 and March 2008, compared to a 31 percent loss during the same period a year earlier.

Pennsylvania fared better, with losses of about 26 percent, compared to nearly 48 percent the previous year. “About 70 percent of the state’s losses this year were not related to Colony Collapse Disorder,” said Dennis vanEngelsdorp, acting state apiarist for the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture and a Penn State senior extension associate in entomology.

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World’s first billboard made of bees?

April 22, 2008

The idea is to make a REAL ad with bees. This idea came to me when I was trying to think of a way to promote my website  Since then I’ve challenged myself to make a billboard out of bees.  I am unsure of how or if it will work, so I’ll need some help.

The plan, for now.

Step 1) Draw a smiley emoticon with bee pheromone.
Step 2) Wait for the bees to take to it.
Step 3) Done.

It can’t be that easy can it?  I really doubt it, but I am going to do tests to see.  I am going to video and publish those videos on.  Subscribe to the youtube channel.

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When little things that rule world are lost

April 14, 2008

There are 6.5 billion people in the world today, three times as many as 50 years ago. There are undoubtedly three billion fewer insects, the forgotten creatures that maintain the fabric of life.

These include bees, butterflies, moths and all flying mites and invertebrates and sea creatures that inhabit earth and slime. Not many people, excepting scientists who watch and count, pay much attention.

Almost everybody is aware of the travails of the major star species such as polar bears, pandas and tigers. We are reminded on a daily basis of their endangerment. There was a scare about bees last year but honey is still in the supermarkets so the bee colony collapse is more or less old news.

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Insects not as attracted to flowers as they used to be

March 28, 2008

The scent of flowers may become a thing of the past, say researchers, who suggest pollution is destroying the natural perfume.

As well as swamping the more delicate fragrances, pollution breaks down the natural scents that flowers emit to attract insects. It also reduces the distance the fragrance can travel, meaning that bees, butterflies and other pollinating insects are less likely to be drawn to the flower, says the study published in the journal Atmospheric Environment.

Flowering plants can also absorb pollutants, making them less attractive to insects.

Scientists believe this explains the marked decline of some plants and the insects they rely on for pollination.

Jose Fuentes, a professor of Environmental Sciences at the University of Virginia, who led the study said: “The greater the amount of pollutants in the air, the greater the rate of destruction of the flower scents.”

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Spring keeps coming earlier for birds, bees, trees

March 19, 2008

Pollen is bursting. Critters are stirring. Buds are swelling. Biologists are worrying.

“The alarm clock that all the plants and animals are listening to is running too fast,” Stanford University biologist Terry Root said.

Blame global warming.

The fingerprints of man-made climate change are evident in seasonal timing changes for thousands of species on Earth, according to dozens of studies and last year’s authoritative report by the Nobel Prize-winning international climate scientists. More than 30 scientists told The Associated Press how global warming is affecting plants and animals at springtime across the country, in nearly every state.

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Swarm of bees closes California Highway after truck carrying the insects flips over

March 18, 2008

Millions of swarming honey bees are on the loose after a truck carrying crates of the insects flipped over on a California highway.

The California Highway Patrol says 8-to-12 million bees escaped Sunday from the crates in which they were stored and swarmed over an area of Highway 99 and stung officers, firefighters and tow truck drivers trying to clear the accident.

CHP Officer Michael Bradley says a tractor trailer flipped over while entering the highway on its way to Yakima, Wash. The flatbed was carrying bee crates each filled with up to 30,000 bees.

Bradley says several beekeepers driving by the accident stopped to assist in the bee wrangling.

The bees had been used in the San Joaquin Valley to pollinate crops.

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Insects take more risks as they get older

March 7, 2008

Imagine a culture so cold and rational that the oldest individuals are forced to take on society’s most dangerous jobs.

The calculus is simple: Leading up to and during your most productive years, you get the safe and cushy indoor jobs — work that is important but unlikely to kill you. When you have a limited amount of time to live, however, you get assigned to land mine clearing and high-risk construction. That way, when you get blown up or fall from a girder, it is not as though you had that much more to offer.

Such is life for many social insects, including several species of bees and ants. The prime of life is spent feeding the queen, caring for newborns and tending to the nest or hive. But with age comes a switch to foraging for food: physically strenuous and risky work that all too often ends in fatal injury or falling victim to predators.

Scientists know that these occupational changes are triggered in part by the activation of genes that govern behavior. But what prompts those genes to turn on?

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