bees

Not Exactly Rocket Science

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One night of passion and you’re filled with a lifetime full of sperm with no need to ever mate again. As sex lives go, it doesn’t sound very appealing, but it’s what many ants, bees, wasps and termites experience. The queens of these social insects mate in a single “nuptial flight” that lasts for a…

Disappearing bees are lost in translation

Since late 2006, honeybees in Europe and North America have been mysteriously disappearing. Once abuzz with activity, hives suddenly turned into honeycombed Marie Celestes. They still had plentiful supplies of honey, pollen and youngsters but the adult workers vanished with no traces of their bodies. The phenomenon has been dubbed colony collapse disorder (CCD). In…

This article is reposted from the old WordPress incarnation of Not Exactly Rocket Science. There’s been more work on CCD since, but I’m reposting this mainly because of some interesting follow-up research that will I will post about tomorrow. In 2006, American and European beekeepers started noticing a strange and worrying trend – their bees…

Earlier today, I published a post on how Japanese honeybees defend themselves from hornets with a mass defence that relies on heat and carbon dioxide. This article was originally written two years ago, and describes the slightly different tactic of Cyprian honeybees. When Oriental hornets attack, Cyprian honeybees mob them in a huge ball that…

Rising temperatures and high carbon dioxide emissions are the means through which humans are inadvertently causing the decline of several species. But one animal actively uses both heat and carbon dioxide as murderous weapons – the unassuming honeybee. With their stings and numbers, bees already seem to be well-defended but they are completely outgunned by…

Social insects like ants, bees and wasps are some of the most successful animals on the planet. By acting as large super-organisms, they can achieve things that larger singular creatures cannot. Their astounding selflessness is driven by an unusual way of handing down their genes, which means that females actually have more genes in common…

Chimps are known to make a variety of tools to aid their quest for food, including fishing sticks to probe for termites, hammers to crack nuts and even spears to impale bushbabies. But a taste for honey has driven one group of chimps in Gabon’s Loango National Park to take tool-making to a new level.…

Many plants depend so heavily on visits from bees that they go to great lengths to attract them, using brightly coloured flowers baited with sweet nectar. But some of their tricks are much subtler and are designed not to attract six-legged visitors, but to make their stay more convenient. The majority of flowering plants have…