Bees learn to play golf and show off how clever they really are | New Scientist

It’s fascinating what bees can do.  They learn, they teach, they communicate with each other.  Of course beekeepers have known about this for a very long time in general.

We only have to watch honey bees on alfalfa flowers to see that they learn and teach others how to obtain or achieve an objective.  With alfalfa flowers, they can learn to outsmart the tricky little pollen “trap” in order to get straight to the nectar.  Then they teach other bees how to do it.

It’s almost like leaving kids in a house with a “child proof” cookie jar.  You gotta know that they’ll be in cookie heaven almost before you get out the door.

Studies like this show us to what lengths bees will go to to achieve an objective.  Individually and collectively.

Bumblebees have shown they can learn how to push a ball into a hole to get a reward, staking their claim to be considered tool users

Source: Bees learn to play golf and show off how clever they really are | New Scientist

Eleven-year-old boy recovering after being stung by bees 400 times

Finally, honest journalism.  After seeing dozens of hyperbolic headlines since it was first reported, we finally get a news source that reported just the facts.

We’ve been treated to nonsense ranging from bees “attacking” the boy to even one headline claiming that the bees “ambushed” the boy.  Honey bees, even Africanized honey bees, are defensive in nature.  They do not preemptively “attack” anything.

Honeybees will mount a formidable defense though.  Often, the “offender” may not even realize he or she caused the bees to feel threatened.  In many cases, the person(s) involved may not have even known a hive was nearby to accidentally offend.

Africanized honey bees mount an even more aggressive defensive than our more common European honey bees here in the U.S.  Having said that, still a defensive reaction and not a premeditated or even spontaneous “attack”.

Unfortunately, a boy had to learn a very hard lesson about situational awareness before you go shooting at things.

(PHOENIX) — The good news: an Arizona boy is happily buzzing around after being stung angry bees.  Four hundred times. ABC News affiliate KNXV-TV reports that Andrew Kunz, 11, of Safford, is swollen and covered in bee stings but otherwise OK after his misadventure. Petrea Kunz, his grandmother, said Andrew was out in the desert […]

Source: Eleven-year-old boy recovering after being stung by bees 400 times

Bee decline threatens US crop production

Wild bee populations, not to bee confused with feral honey bee populations, are seeing significant reductions in population presences.  With the addition of the Rusty Patch Bumblebee in January to the Endangered Species List, it is something that has been coming ever more to our attention.

Of course, there are more than bumblebees we are talking about here.  There are leafcutters, mason bees, carpenter bees, and thousands more out there that are part of the overall growing environment.

It iso a problem with many vectors being threatened at once.  Trying to put the blame on a single smoking gun is the folly we usually pursue, usually to the detriment and delay of any real positive action.

It’s not just a binary set of choices facing us.  It’s not a situation to let managed bees go to save wild bees.  It’s not a “one or the other” situation.  It so rarely ever is.  We need to see the “big picture”  to provide context as we can too easily obsess over a single detail within and never really understand these relationships and interactions crucial to the whole scene.

The more we know, the better we bee.

The first-ever study to map US wild bees suggests they are disappearing in the country’s most important farmlands.

Source: Bee decline threatens US crop production

Honey bee genetics sheds light on bee origins

Ah, what a complicated web we weave when first we practice to….interbreed?   At least, that’s the story from the University of California in trying to determine where our fuzzy, buzzy little friends got their geographic and biological beginnings.

There’s an old saying that goes along the lines of we can’t really know where we’re going until we know where we’ve been.  In trying to figure out where our bee populations are headed, they want to find out where they came from.

An ambitious goal indeed.

Where do honey bees come from? A new study from researchers at UC Davis and UC Berkeley clears some of the fog around honey bee origins. The work could be useful in breeding bees resistant to disease or pesticides.

Source: Honey bee genetics sheds light on bee origins

Bees’ favourite plants revealed by Botanic Garden study – BBC News

We know honey bees show preference to flowers with higher sugar content in the nectar and with the pollen that has particular nutrients such as proteins, amino acids, etc.. they need for brood rearing and such.  The Botanic Garden of Wales says they have been able to pin down the most preferred flowers by honey bees.

It might inspire your garden and beekeeping related planting plans.

National Botanic Garden of Wales research reveals which plants bees choose their pollen from.

Source: Bees’ favourite plants revealed by Botanic Garden study – BBC News

Honeybees let out a ‘whoop’ when they bump into each other | New Scientist

How it looks from here…   The bees aren’t saying “Whoop”  or even “whoops” like it seems to suggest.  From reading the article and knowing bees, it’s probably more like, “Hey!” or “Hey there!”

Whoops, please.  There’s no “whooping” in a bee hive.  Bees gots things to do and places to bee.  There’s no time for “whooping”.

Just saying.

A vibrational pulse that was thought to be a “stop” signal between bees may actually be a startled response when they collide

Source: Honeybees let out a ‘whoop’ when they bump into each other | New Scientist

IU-based agriculture startup to begin R&D of beehive sensors

From a Bee Smart point of view, this is very interesting.  Younger people getting interested and involved in bees and beekeeping.  Advancing information and knowledge about the inner workings of the hive.  Creating opportunities and furthering the positive use of technology to study and manage bee hives.

What’s not to love about this?

BLOOMINGTON — An agriculture technology startup called The Bee Corp. has been launched to monitor conditions inside commercial beehives.

Source: IU-based agriculture startup to begin R&D of beehive sensors

Robot Bees vs Real Bees – Why Tiny Drones Can’t Compete With the Real Thing

I find it interesting to see scientists comment on other science reports.  It’s part of the whole process.  It also provides insight into studies and topics from people who may have extensive experience in a particular related area from a different point of view.

Conflicting or in agreement,  science and technology ultimately benefit from peer review.   Like the author, I can see specific use cases.  In general though, nothing can beat our bees.

Researchers in Japan have been using miniature drones covered with sticky hairs to act like robotic bees to counter the decline of natural pollinators.

Source: Robot Bees vs Real Bees – Why Tiny Drones Can’t Compete With the Real Thing

Honey Bees May Be Harmed By Crop-Protecting Fungicides

While I won’t say if this is a “thing” yet, I will admit that I won’t bee surprised.  Bees are such complex creatures not only because of each one’s physiology, but the very nature of the super-organism we know as the colony.

This describes sub-lethal effects that don’t get looked for in regular testing most of the time.  Until a few years ago, even the EPA wasn’t thinking about sub-lethal effects on pesticides being submitted for use in the U.S. and didn’t include testing for it.

It certainly gives us something else to add to the discussion when discussing bee nutrition and environments.   

Farmers rely on fungicides to prevent those brown spots that can ruin an otherwise perfectly delicious apple. But, it turns out, those fungicides could be hurting honey bees.

Source: Honey Bees May Be Harmed By Crop-Protecting Fungicides

New regs for Friday: Bumblebees and more

The Trump White House has issued an order to delay certain listings that they want to look over before enacting.  Caught up in that is the listing of the Rusty Patch Bumblebee to the protected species list.

Fish and Wildlife has consequently delayed the official listing for 60 days until March 21st to comply with the White House order.

President Trump’s regulatory moratorium captures protections for bumble bees in Friday’s edition of the Federal Register.

Source: New regs for Friday: Bumblebees, farmers, fishermen