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2537.  Tue Dec 02, 2003 5:44 am Reply with quote

Experiments have shown that bee hives can be used like scarecrows to keep elephants away from trees and crops. Although generally thick-skinned, elephants have weak spots under the belly, behind the ears, around the eyes and inside the trunk, and Maasai bee-keepers report entire herds of elephants being chased up to 5 km by swarms of bees. Attaching an occupied hive to a tree will guarantee that no elephant will graze on it, and even empty hives provide some deterrent effect, as does a recording of buzzing bee noises.

(Fritz Vollrath and Iain Douglas-Hamilton, Naturwissenschaften, 1 Nov 2002)

2688.  Wed Dec 03, 2003 6:18 pm Reply with quote

Ref the unairworthy bumble bee myth (see post 1644 and post 1648 on the General Ignorance thread), this sounds as though it may be the final word on the subject:

Apparently the culprits are an entomologist called August Magnan and his lab assistant, an engineer named Sainte-Lague, in the introduction to a book called Le Vol des Insects, which was published in 1934.

Molly Cule
2820.  Fri Dec 05, 2003 5:47 am Reply with quote

Some general bee factoids -

1/3 of our food supply (the plants we eat and the ones we feed to animals) is dependent upon bees and pollinating.

A pound of honey requires 10 million honeybee worker trips to gather nectar.

The members of an everage hive make 4.5 M visits to flowers in one day.

1000 worker bees die each day in summer from exhaustion, the average life span of a worker bee is 6 weeks.

2845.  Fri Dec 05, 2003 5:03 pm Reply with quote

dingleberry wrote:
1/3 of our food supply (the plants we eat and the ones we feed to animals) is dependent upon bees and pollinating.

A pound of honey requires 10 million honeybee worker trips to gather nectar.

The members of an everage hive make 4.5 M visits to flowers in one day.

1000 worker bees die each day in summer from exhaustion, the average life span of a worker bee is 6 weeks.

Off topic (apols) but associated in my mind with these facts about bees: tis only a little thing in itself but its communal nature makes for large mass and so the ability to achieve tangible results from teeny increments. The only other group of similarly "eusocial" (having castes etc.) insects are termites. The teeny incremental fact about termites is that the methane produced from their inaudible farts is the major source of greenhouse gas warming - far exceeding the internal combustion engine and the rather more substantive cow farts.

src : pers comm Lynn Margulis.

2856.  Sat Dec 06, 2003 3:46 am Reply with quote

<genetics lesson>Just A Minute challenge here is how to write a paragraph on bee relationships and the sociobiological consequences without using the I word. It is a good example of how biological constraints predispose to particular lifestyle choices (see Melvin Konner’s “Tangled Wing: biological constraints on the human spirit” for two- rather than six-legged examples). Hymenoptera determine sex with a haplodiploid (<definition>haploid: a single complement of genetic material - one chromosome of each type; diploid: a full complement – two copies of every chromosome</definition>) mechanism not a million miles from our XY XX system given that the Y chromosome is weeny and has only a handful of genes, except that in bees it applies to the whole genome rather than to a pair of sex chromosomes.

In bees, and other hymenoptera, males are haploid – laid by the queen from unfertilised eggs and females are diploid with chromosomes from both the queen and the drone who jumped her. A little exercise in fractions yields the following table of genetic relationships as proportion of genes identical by descent in a typical bee colony. Dramatis personae: Qu Queen; KD her consort; Wk female offspring; Dr male offspring;

Qu KD Wk Dr
Wk 0.5 0.5 0.75 0.25
Dr 1.0 0.0 0.5 0.5

So workers have 3/4 of their genes in common and are more closely related to each other than they are to their own female offspring. This predisposes them to helping their sisters (including the new queen when she goes off looking start a new colony) rather than going off to seeking their own genetic fortune in a mating flight. HapDip is, however, neither necessary nor sufficient: there are many examples of solitary hymenoptera and at least one example (many species of termites) of eusociality (complex social relationships and castes with specialist defined physiology and function) in insect groups that don’t determine sex by haplodiploidy. </genetics lesson>.

Q. Why do bees prefer housekeeping to bonking?

I’ll leave the workers to expand and condense the answer into a sufficiently small space to fit on a television and drone off into the distance…..hmmmmmmmmm.

2859.  Sat Dec 06, 2003 9:20 am Reply with quote

Wonderful question Bob!

2898.  Sun Dec 07, 2003 7:14 pm Reply with quote

Beep ... challenge. Repitition of "hymenoptera".

3431.  Wed Dec 17, 2003 6:57 pm Reply with quote

One feature of bees and wasps that is often cited as distinguishing the two is actually a long-standing fallacy.. Mention is frequently made of how a bee will lose its stinger in the flesh of its victim because the barbs ... prevent it from being withdrawn (whereas) the wasp has no barbs, which enables (it) to sting repeatedly. First of all, some wasps do carry barbed stingers ... The major error, however, is including all bees in the distinction... Only the honey bee, which was introduced to the Americas by European settlers, has such a stinger and loses it upon attack ... often ... leading to the the bee's death within a few hours. The bumblebee and other North American bees ... can sting repeatedly, just like the wasp ...

4317.  Tue Jan 13, 2004 6:37 pm Reply with quote

Freemasonry and bees:

Looking at the regulated labor of these insects when congregated in their hive, it is not surprising that a beehive should have been deemed an appropriate emblem of systematized industry. Freemasonry has therefore adopted the beehive as a symbol of industry, a virtue taught in the instructions, which says that a Master Mason 'works that he may receive wages, the better to support himself and family, and contribute to the relief of a worthy, distressed brother, his widow and orphans...' The ark has already been shown to have been an emblem common to Freemasonry and the Ancient Mysteries, as a symbol of regeneration - of the second birth from death to life. Now, in the Mysteries, a hive was a type of the ark. 'Hence,' says Faber (Origin of Pagan Idolatry, volume ii, page 133), 'both the diluvian priestess and the regenerated souls were called bees; hence, bees were feigned to be produced from the carcass of a cow, which also symbolized the ark; and hence, as the great father was esteemed an infernal god, honey was much used both in funeral rites and in the Mysteries. This extract is from the article on the bee in Evans' Animal Symbolism in Ecclesiastical Architecture."
[...] Thus was man formed for social and active life, the noblest part of the work of God; and he that will so demean himself, as not to be endeavouring to add to the common stock of knowledge and understanding, may be deemed a drone in the hive of nature, a useless member of society, and unworthy of our protection as masons.

4812.  Sun Jan 18, 2004 6:27 pm Reply with quote

Q: In recognition of his actions on 4th Nov 1914, a British army signalman was awarded the MC for "bravery under aerial attack", the first time in history that such an award was made. What was the nature of the aerial attack?

A: He was being stung by 300 African bees, but continued to send his signal nonetheless. This took place at the Battle of Tanga in what is now Tanzania. The British (actually Indian) force was attacking the German (actually African) force. The German faction had the upper hand but were about to run out of ammunition when the British force was attacked by swarms of bees who had been disturbed by the fighting. The Germans carried the day; their commander von Lettow-Vorbeck was promoted from Colonel to Major-General, while the British commander Aitken was demoted from Major-General to Colonel.

s: The Hinge Factor by Erik Durschmeid, Hodder & Stoughton, 1999

(This is a faithful account of what the book says, but in fact I'm not sure I'll believe that the citation was really for "bravery under aerial attack" until I see the Gazette entry).

4813.  Sun Jan 18, 2004 6:31 pm Reply with quote

Bee stings are used to treat a range of conditions, including Multiple Sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, tennis elbow, and period pains.

The alternative medical procedure known as apitherapy or Bee Venom Therapy has been in use since ancient times. Clinical trials have only recently been undertaken, but it is claimed that bee-stings may have a benign effect because they contain the anti-inflammatory melittin and prompt the body into producing cortisol, a natural healing agent. To administer the treatment, a bee is taken from a jar or hive with a pair of tweezers and held on the body part to be stung. The stinger is left in for 10 to 15 minutes.

Gale Encyclopedia of Alternative Medicine

· Cerrato, Paul L. "A Therapeutic Bee Sting?" RN 61, 8 (August 1998): 57-58.
· D'Epiro, Nancy Walsh. "Bee Venom for Multiple Sclerosis." Patient Care 33, 14 (September 15, 1999): 27-31.
· Granstrom, Chris. "Stinging Away the Pain." Country Journal 23, 5 (September/October 1996): 22-25.
· Somerfield, Stanley D. "Bee Venom and Arthritis: Magic, Myth or Medicine?" New Zealand Medical Journal 99, 800 (April 1986): 281-283.

Sophie J
4885.  Tue Jan 20, 2004 8:03 am Reply with quote

The honeybee is the latest crreature to have its genome completely sequenced, and the third insect after the fruit fly and the mosquito.

The honeybee (Apis mellifera) has a genome that is only a tenth the size of ours and it took a year to produce this 'first draft' that has just been published, at a cost of $8 million.

s: New Scientist, 17th Jan 2004

11407.  Mon Nov 29, 2004 4:07 pm Reply with quote

The fact in this week's show about bees buzzing due to their breathing rather than the movement of their wings- fair enough, but why do they only buzz when they are flying? Is it because flying about requires heavier breathing?

11409.  Mon Nov 29, 2004 4:10 pm Reply with quote

Not to detract from your question, but how was the show on friday? I missed it.

11420.  Mon Nov 29, 2004 4:40 pm Reply with quote

not bad, not bad


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