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Posts Tagged "bees"

Compound Eye

2013-2014 Winter Honey Bee Losses Are Likely To Be Large

Apis mellifera

Over the next few months we will hear news of this winter’s honey bee losses in North America. The news won’t be good. Although official loss tallies have yet to be released, persistently cold weather across the northern part of the continent has made the 2013-2014 winter an unusually difficult one. Beekeepers relying on standard [...]

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Compound Eye

Thrifty Thursday: the honeycomb, the flashlight, and the iPhone

comb1f

Thrifty Thursdays feature photographs taken with equipment costing less than $500. [iPhone 4S - $330] The recipe is simple: 1. Place comb upright so that both sides are exposed. 2. Point a flashlight to spotlight the comb. 3. Place the phone camera on the other side of the comb and take a picture. The iPhone’s small [...]

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Compound Eye

Recipe for a Photograph #2: Bee in Flight

Xylocopa3f

Few insects so conspicuously mark the arrival of late spring in North America as Xylocopa virginica carpenter bees. Males are especially visible as they raucously guard territories around females’ wooden burrows. Because carpenter bees are common, nearly an inch long, not easily spooked, and tend to hover in place, they make ideal subjects for dramatic photographs [...]

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Compound Eye

On Assignment: Bees in the Wall

IMG_9793f

Among the perks of being an extremely specialized photographer are the unusual, and unusually interesting, assignments. I recently had an opportunity to photograph a commercial bee removal company in action. They had been contracted to extract a sizeable colony of honey bees from the walls of a residence in Champaign, Illinois, and brought me along to [...]

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Compound Eye

Organic Honey Is A Sweet Illusion

Forgive the off-topic post, but today is Food Day here at Scientific American. As I teach a university beekeeping class, I’d like to talk about honey. Considering the revered place of honey as the oldest natural sweetener, and considering that its insect makers- honey bees- are highly intolerant of pesticides, you might think honey would [...]

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Extinction Countdown

Britain Tries (Again) to Re-Introduce Extinct Bees

short-haired bee

Long live the queens. A species of bumblebee that went extinct in its native Britain decades ago now has a second chance, as several short-haired bumblebees (Bombus subterraneus) were released June 3 in a restored habitat on the southeastern corner of England. This is the third phase in a multi-step effort to both bring back [...]

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Extinction Countdown

Endangered Australian Cockatoo Loses One Third of Population in Just 1 Year

Carnaby

It’s been a rough year for Western Australia’s iconic but endangered Carnaby’s black cockatoos (Calyptorhynchus latirostris), which are endemic to the state and live nowhere else in the world. Their population has dropped 37 percent in the past year, from 12,954 roosting birds in 2010 to just 8,365 in 2011, according to the third Great [...]

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Extinction Countdown

Farming Rats and Bees Could Solve Bushmeat Crisis in Africa, Experts Say

Bees in a Kenyan top bar, a type of man-made beehive used for beekeeping in Africa

The rising and often illegal trade in bushmeat—wild-caught animals, often threatened species such as primates, birds and elephants—threatens African biodiversity and could drive numerous species into extinction. Finding replacements for that trade could solve the need for both income and subsistence in many African communities. The answer, according to experts speaking at a meeting held [...]

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Extinction Countdown

Seven Hawaiian bees risk extinction

The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation last week petitioned the U.S. Department of the Interior to protect seven Hawaiian bee species under the Endangered Species Act. All seven species of these "yellow-faced bees" — Hylaeus anthracinus, H. longiceps, H. assimulans, H. facilis, H. hilaris, H. kuakea and H. mana — have seen tremendous declines since [...]

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Not bad science

Nevada Celebrates Pollinator Week

NPW12

The title of this article probably is an overstatement. Perhaps instead it should have been ‘a small subset of people in Reno, and possibly in Vegas (because everything you can think of exists there) celebrated pollinators for a week. And what week was this, I hear you say? Well, in case you missed it, National [...]

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Not bad science

Psychic Animals and Football-Playing Bees

Picture1

Working in the field of animal behaviour means that around World Cup season it’s hard to avoid being sent links to so-called ‘psychic’ animals that predict the outcome of matches, such as Paul the octopus, Leon the porcupine and Anton the tamarin. However, while these animals may have made predictions useful to people placing bets [...]

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Not bad science

Notes from some not bad science

The largest animal behaviour conference in the UK (the Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour) was held last Thursday and Friday in my hometown of St Andrews. The theme of the conference was ‘Understanding Animal Intelligence’, encompassing animals from chimpanzees and humans, to bees and scrub jays. There was a tremendous amount of exciting [...]

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Not bad science

Emotional bees

Whether animals feel emotion, and are capable of suffering, is a question the answer to which has far-reaching implications. I recently read Victoria Braithwaite’s ‘Do Fish Feel Pain?’, a question that I didn’t worry about much until reading this book, but now bothers me a lot more. This book raised a number of quandaries I [...]

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Observations

Bumblebees Quickly Learn Best Paths to Sweet Flowers

bumblebees learn shortest routes to flowers

Bumblebees, it turns out, don’t bumble. Using tiny radar tracking devices, motion-activated cameras and artificial flowers, scientists have learned how the bees themselves quickly learn the best routes to take when they go foraging from flower to flower. In fact, their cognitive competence in this area seems to match that of bigger-brained animals. A team [...]

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Observations

Zombies Invade Google Campus

She looked perfectly normal. But what was she doing roaming around at night on the Google campus in Mountain View, Calif? She’d been drawn out of her home, following the light, and now was taking mincing steps across a white bed sheet. Had she just taken “the flight of the living dead”? Was she actually [...]

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Observations

Are Zombie Bees Infiltrating Your Neighborhood?

parasite flies and zombie bee

Zombie bees are not science fiction. They are real—and real threat to already-threatened U.S. honeybee populations. Honeybees (Apis mellifera) in California and South Dakota have been observed acting zombielike, wandering away from their hives at night and crawling around blindly in circles. These insects have been rendered insensate by a parasitizing fly that lays eggs [...]

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Observations

Personality Might Be Genetically Encoded in Bee Brains

bee personality

Honeybees (Apis mellifera) are more than cookie-cutter drones, workers, foragers and queens. They might have individual personality differences similar to our own, according to new research. After studying hives—both in the wild and in the lab—and analyzing genetic and biochemical profiles of bees’ brains, researchers have found that some bees, like some humans, seem to [...]

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Observations

“Zombie” Fly Parasite Killing Honeybees

A heap of dead bees was supposed to become food for a newly captured praying mantis. Instead, the pile ended up revealing a previously unrecognized suspect in colony collapse disorder—a mysterious condition that for several years has been causing declines in U.S. honeybee populations, which are needed to pollinate many important crops. This new potential [...]

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Observations

Tiny radio transmitters track flight of tropical orchid bees

radio transmitter track tropical orchid bees

Rare tropical orchids can be few and far between in the wild, often separated by spotty landscape and human-made obstacles. But powerful tropical orchid bees do the leg—or wing—work, flying great distances to pollinate isolated flowers and keep the flora gene pool fresh. Just how far and where exactly these bees fly, however, has remained [...]

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Plugged In

It’s Time for a Neonicotinoid Time Out

Photo courtesy of  C. Löser via Wikimedia Commons

There’s a mounting pile of evidence that three particular neonicotinoid insecticides, clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiamethoxam, are harming bees. During the late 1990’s this class of pesticides began being used to treat corn and other field crop seeds. Today, they are the most commonly used pesticides in the U.S., and have covered millions of acres. Despite their [...]

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PsiVid

The magic of filmmaking (science and otherwise)

Soon, Carin and I will be attending Science Online 2012 in Raleigh, NC. We will both be running workshops with co-hosts on creating videos. We will also be your emcees for the Science Online Film Festival featuring some amazing pieces. Keep your eyes pealed here for entrants and winners! I’m cohosting a workshop, Basic Videomaking 101, [...]

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The Thoughtful Animal

Rats, Bees, Brains, and The Best Science Writing Online 2012

I’m still playing a bit of catch-up after last week’s AZA conference. In the meantime, The Best Science Writing Online 2012 was published this week, which includes a piece I originally posted in July, 2011. In honor of the publication, I’m reposting that piece, below. Also, check out my new fortnightly column at BBC Future, [...]

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The Thoughtful Animal

Elephants Say “Bee-ware!”

ResearchBlogging.org

What information is contained in the call of a mammal? Some calls might reflect the internal emotional state of the animal, like fear or anxiety, or they can refer to an external object, agent, or event, like the presence of a predator. Rhesus monkeys, lemurs, baboons, and guinea pigs, for example, will produce calls when [...]

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