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20 Things you may not know about bees!

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861461.  Tue Nov 01, 2011 9:26 pm Reply with quote

imaginer wrote:
If the Honeybees died out... and why do we think they would?... Like "Honeybee News" was reporting on thier TV in their hive the other day that thousands of humans died the other month in a civil war in Africa & they're worried for our future due to our preoccupation with dangerous weaponry & our search for cheaper fuel, which often turns out to be dangerous fuel to use; Carbon monoxide poisoning, radiation sickness"

For all the ways in which humans die in large numbers, our population is still increasing rapidly. In contrast, both wild and domestic bee populations appear to have been falling for some time, and have recently begun to plummet in some areas.

Much of what I've read is rather woolly when it comes to figures, but a report on domestic bee-keeping in the U.S. gives these: "Data on overall honey bee losses for 2010 indicate an estimated 34 percent loss, which is statistically similar to losses reported in 2007, 2008, and 2009."

Source: Colony Collapse Disorder Progress Report 2010 (pdf)
(U.S. Department of Agriculture)

See also: Global Pollinator Decline: A Literature Review (pdf)
(from the United Nations Environment Programme)

imaginer wrote:
and besides... humans might make small mechanical bees!

A tricky job, but maybe one day! A brief search for current progress in miniature mechanical beastie making turned up this:
Youtube: 3D Printed Hovering Ornithopter

This was built by Cornell Creative Machines Lab, who have some other cool stuff on their website:

imaginer wrote:
and besides, when an animal disapears we often see (Looking back through natural history), that another animal takes it's place/fills it's niche, so if the honey bee died out, it's entirley possible that another creature would take it's place...

This can happen in some circumstances, but may take many years and there is concern that numbers of other pollinating species, such as bats and moths, are also declining.

In other cases, no replacement pollinators can be found. Take the example of vanilla, which is native to Mexico and pollinated in the wild by a local Melipona bee species. Attempts to cultivate naturally pollinated vanilla outside Mexico, or export the Melipona bee have failed, leading would-be vanilla farmers to this thought:

imaginer wrote:
and besides... We could employ people in third world countries to go out into fields with cotton buds cross polinating the crops!!!!!

In 1841, a 12-year old slave named Edmond Albius discovered a technique for pollinating vanilla plants by hand. Today, nearly all commercially grown vanilla is hand-pollinated, most being grown in Madagascar. This process is highly labour-intensive, more so as each vanilla flower is ready for pollination for only a single day*. This contributes to vanilla being one of the most expensive spices (second only to saffron according to Wikipedia). Imagine if wheat or rice cost that much...

* Source: placards at the Eden Project

861611.  Wed Nov 02, 2011 2:38 pm Reply with quote

That is an amazing reply, very cool things to think on... I might put your reply up for an award for best reply to a post!

Cheers Leith :)

(Sometimes I can be dreadfully sarcastic, in this case I am not)

863347.  Wed Nov 09, 2011 6:44 pm Reply with quote

No worries :)

Leith wrote:
imaginer wrote:
and besides... humans might make small mechanical bees!

A tricky job, but maybe one day! A brief search for current progress in miniature mechanical beastie making turned up this:
Youtube: 3D Printed Hovering Ornithopter

Further to the above, here's a group at Harvard working on tiny flying robots:
Harvard Microrobotics Laboratory

In 2007 they created a life-sized robot fly, able to fly on a tether with the aid of an external power supply:
YouTube: Harvard Microbotic Fly

This and other related research has lead to the RoboBees Project. The project's collaborators are working towards the development of "coordinated agile robotic insects", with autonomous pollination listed as one of the potential applications to which such robots might be put.

867252.  Sun Nov 27, 2011 3:47 pm Reply with quote

Have they knees?

924708.  Tue Jul 17, 2012 6:59 pm Reply with quote

The bee species tentatively identified by myself and my cousin as the orange hairy-arsed bee is more technically known as Bombus lapidarius or the red-tailed bumblebee. To be more precise the one we saw was a worker, like this one.

994327.  Mon May 06, 2013 3:08 pm Reply with quote

Further to post 863347, the latest developments on the RoboBees project have recently been unveiled:

They are now capable of controlled flight (though still require a cable to provide power and control signals).

1050618.  Fri Jan 24, 2014 8:14 am Reply with quote

Gentlemen and ladies!

Some of the more stunning parts of bees and behaviour are not brought up here:

+Bees buzz in the key of A unless they are tired in which case it's more like E.

+There are loads of species of stingless tropical bees (that make clearer honey) but only a handful of true honeybees.

+If a bee gets drunk and she returns to the hive, the guard bees will wrestle her around and force her to leave. Occasionally their bouncer-like actions leave the drunkard minus a leg or more (literally legless).

+Killer bees were not, in any serious way, more deadly than regular bees.

+If another bee objects to the directions given in the waggle-dance - perhaps because the food source is dangerous or depleted - then she will headbutt the dancing bee to get her to stop. This behaviour also occurs when hunting for a new hive location. To cast a vote for a location a bee simply starts buzzing around the site until there are enough bees that agree. When about a 15-bee consensus is reached they all head home to tell the others.

+The Robber Bees of Central America, as the name suggests, make no honey themselves but instead aggressively raid other bee hives.

+Before the discovery of bee space, the modern box hives did not exist. Instead the kind of bee hives that you might remember from old cartoons and that the hair-style is named after were a kind of tall dome-shape. They had to be burnt before any honey could be recovered, killing the entire hive. With the discovery of 'bee space' honeybees became the first insect to be domesticated.

+Before the 1660's the Queen was known as the King... naturally.

1050641.  Fri Jan 24, 2014 8:51 am Reply with quote

Before the 1660's the Queen was known as the King... naturally.

In law, a human Queen can still be the King (highest rank, head of state). Nowadays being a bee is perhaps better than being the outranked Duke of Edinburgh. Since 2013 the Dutch have a King (heir) and Queen (wife of the King, as long as he's the King), but they also used to have a Queen (heir) and Prince (husband of the Queen, outranked by all heirs).

1051000.  Sat Jan 25, 2014 2:39 pm Reply with quote

Gorgeous pictures of bees

"...researchers have found that the very useful (and adorable) waggle dance, which the honey bees perform to inform others about where to find food, is actually based on the patterns of polarized light."

And bees aren't necessarily required for pollination. "First, the apple farmers reported that apple production was not hurt by the absence of bees. In fact, the apple harvest was '30 to 40 percent greater' when humans did the pollinating. 'Human pollinators,' wrote J.B. MacKinnon, 'were better at getting to every blossom, performed cross-pollination more efficiently, and could work in windy, rainy weather.'"

Prof Wind Up Merchant
1172046.  Mon Jan 25, 2016 5:22 pm Reply with quote

I saw bees outside my flat last month. Normally not the season for them but it was unseasonably mild. Hence the bees.

1268164.  Sat Dec 23, 2017 9:19 am Reply with quote

Bees are related to ants, since they both descend from wasps.

Honey can be used as a cicatrising, disinfecting medicine. I know, I healed a badly gashed finger with honey, and I didn't get sick or anything, even if I was in Uganda in the middle of the disease season.

Honey doesn't age. It gets bad if something bad gets in it, but otherwise, it's good for human consumption.

1268246.  Sat Dec 23, 2017 3:57 pm Reply with quote

heimerdinger wrote:
Bee are only insect that produces food eaten by man.

Bee are awesome.

But you can eat quite a lot of actual insects themselves :-)

1269508.  Fri Jan 05, 2018 4:13 am Reply with quote

I was stung by a bee twice in my life. Those things hurt bad. I also heard people are allergic to them. Either way keep your distance.


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