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Bees

‘Beeautiful’ Buzzing Sistren

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Gen Zs (<26 year olds) are rescuing and breaking new ground within the queendom of our sistren, the bees.

Honeybees have a remarkably complex language. It includes dancing, headbutting and scaling vibrations. Each intriguing maneuver conveys specific and precise meaning. For example, when honeybees encounter giant Asian hornets their vibrational dialect quickly pulses up the scale. That is, the higher the pitch, the greater the peril.

Honeybees can communicate danger better than any other of the 900,000 or so kinds of insects. That’s why scientists are paying close attention to the bees because they spotlight toxicity within the environment. It’s high time for the lawmakers globally to ban all these deadly nerve poisons that are killing bees and birds, e.g., neonicotinoids, sulfoxaflors, flupyradifurone and chlorpyrifos.

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A Sweet Story

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*Science is exhilarating, challenging and rich with rewards. As a scientist, the bees have shown me many things.

Last week, the bees revealed a lesson on speed and stamina. At 230 wingbeats per second, on my bicycle, I clocked one gal soaring down the street at 27 miles per hour (mph)!

honeybees
An indefatigable worker on a nectar run. Image credit: Reese Halter

She had an empty load. When topped-up with nectar, pollen, water or tree resin (used to make propolis, or bee glue), a honeybee can reach an impressive 20mph. She can maintain that stamina for possibly a couple miles or more.

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America’s Bees – 55 Billion Dead, Feds Drop Bee Survey

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*America’s bees are in big trouble. Instead of protecting our important buzzing brethren and those who  faithfully tend to them, the Trump administration is overtly pandering to Big Chem, the makers of more deadly nerve poisons.

Normally, a beekeeper can expect to lose about 12 percent of a colony to overwintering deaths. Since 2006, U.S. beekeepers have lost around 30 percent of their hives each winter. The winter of 2007-08 recorded a death spike of 36 percent. Some beekeepers were forced into bankruptcy.

America's Bees
Image credit: Reese Halter

Since then, my colleagues have conducted hundreds of scientific studies on the deadly effects of a wide array of nerve poisons used in commercial insecticides e.g. neonicotinoidssulfoxaflorflupyradifurone, chlorpyrifos. When honeybees encounter less than a dozen parts per billion of these nerve poisons, they instantaneously exhibit the full strength symptoms of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. The Einsteins of the insect world lose their minds and shake to death.  Horrible. Keep Reading

Secrets of Bees and Flowers

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*People and honeybees share many similarities including some of the same genes and brain neurons. It’s one of the many reasons why I am awed by these masterpiece creatures.

For my entire professional life, I have followed Senegalese conservationist Baba Dioum’s dictum: “In the end, we will conserve only what we love; we will love only what we understand and we will understand only what we are taught.”

honeybees
Honeybees can add, subtract and count. Image credit: Nat Geo

The more we discover about the incomparable honeybees, the more respect they rightfully garner. Keep Reading

Ancient Forests Key to Bees’ Survival

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Ancient Forests Key to Bees' Survival

*The world’s remaining ancient forests are breathtaking “flying rivers.” They move water on almost inconceivably large scales. The ancient forests are also vital medicine chests for the bees.

The oceans are the main drivers of climate, yet new information reveals just how critical ancient forests are at creating climate and influencing it across a continent and around the globe. When ancient forests are razed, all hell breaks loose halfway around the world.

Bees - Amazon rainforest clouds
The Amazon rainforest clouds are vital for reflecting incoming solar radiation to space and keeping the jungle habitable. Image credit: Quanta Magazine

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Bees – Nature’s Smart Superheroes

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*Bees are admirable little creatures, but they’re in terrible trouble.  Nearly 7.6 billion procreating humans need them in order to survive. That means you.

Twenty thousand species of bees pollinate about 85 percent of flowering plants, or 336,000 species, including most of the 80,000 kinds of trees on Earth. In fact, bees help us breathe because without plants, we couldn’t exist!

Bees: Forager Honeybee Nappnig
A forager honeybee napping on a lemon blossom petal in Hollywood, California.
Photo Credit: Dr. Reese Halter

Bees pollinate 75 percent of the world’s food crops and 100 percent of cotton, which clothes us. Bees account for as much as $577 billion in commerce per annum.
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