Flight researchers and computer scientists get all sorts of cool tools to study honeybees, hoping the insects can help point the way to better UAV flight patterns, solutions to computing problems and even environmental monitoring. But what about the bees?
Tom Kunz has been studying bats throughout New England for more than four decades. In annual treks to remote caves, he and other researchers from Boston University capture bats, banding them to track their migration patterns and movement over the years. During trips to bat hibernacula—the bats' winter hideouts—he grew accustomed to cave walls covered in huddled masses of bats, tens of thousands strong. Aeolus Cave in Vermont, the largest bat hibernaculum in the northeast, has long been a winter home for more than 100,000 bats. Kunz regards them fondly, like old friends. What he sees today brings him to tears.
For almost two years, the honeybees that support almost all human agriculture have fought a plague right out of a sci-fi movie. Varroa mites, a deadly parasite, have hid in the labyrinthine combs of beehives, feeding off the juices of still-living insects, and causing the the problem we know as Colony Collapse Disorder.
To help our bee allies fend off the alien invaders, the Agriculture Research Service division of the Department of Agriculture has created a new breed of super-vigilant bees that will take the fight to the mites.
By Taylor NewmanPosted 08.26.2009 at 3:15 pm 12 Comments
Since 2006, about 30 percent of the commercial honeybee population has died off due to Colony Collapse Disorder. Though many theories have emerged about the causes of CCD since it first began ravaging honeybee populations, a study released this week has identified the first molecular marker of the disorder.
People generally know that substances that are harmless when taken separately in small doses can lead to disorientation, and perhaps uncharacteristic behavior, when mixed. Honey bees, apparently, do not. After all, dabbling is what honey bees do, and it's what we love them for. These little workers are responsible for billions of annual agricultural industry dollars, thanks to their pollination services. But bees haven't been staying on task. They've been acting a little weird lately--leaving their hives and not coming back--and attracting a lot of attention for it.
As CCD continues for a second year, researchers continue to be stymied by its cause
By Matt RansfordPosted 05.22.2008 at 11:47 am 4 Comments
More discouraging statistics this week from the Apiary Inspectors of America: 36.1 percent of commercially managed beehives in the U.S. have been lost in the past year. While the group only began to track these numbers last year when Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) was first appearing, the two years of losses add up to a bleak picture for honeybees. These drops are undoubtedly unsustainable over the long term and the situation is not improving.
While scientists are still puzzling over the disappearance of bees, large numbers of bats have begun dying out no less mysteriously
By Matt RansfordPosted 03.26.2008 at 10:18 am 5 Comments
Weve by now all seen the news that bees are dying in huge numbers. Scientists have labeled the phenomenon Colony Collapse Disorder, or CCD. Dead bees mean less crop pollination, which means less food at higher prices. Whats causing the problem is still anyones guess. Now, strangely, bats in the eastern U.S. are experiencing a similar plague which biologists have dubbed White Nose Syndrome (WNS) for the white fungus that appears on their bodies at the height of infection.