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Bees and science both fascinate me, but when the two are combined, my fascination turns into amazement. The above video shows how bees react in two different situations – first when both bees have their left antennae clipped off, and secondly when they have their right antennae clipped.

In the first part of the video (in the petri dish labelled “2”) the bees are shown embracing and swapping mouth-to-mouth fluids because they are from the same hive and recognize this by using their remaining right antennae. In the second part of the video (in the dish labelled “1”) bees who only have left antennae square off the same way that they would if they were from competing hives. This indicates that the right antennae is being used to determine if a stranger honeybee is friend or foe!

Check out this post on ScienceNews for more information on this study.

As reported in the National Post, French beekeepers are finding brightly coloured honey in their hives. The source of the brown, blue and green honey was tracked down to a biogas plant nearby that was processing containers with residue from M&M candies.

I must admit, at first, I thought that this article was a hoax. It would only take a drop or two of food colouring to fake this story, however it is plausible if the bees were foraging in the area where these liquids were available.

The beekeepers are claiming that the honey is not sellable in this coloured state. I think that with a bit of a clever spin, this honey could probably be sold for more than regular honey. After all, what kid wouldn’t want some blue honey spread on their toast in the morning?

Read the original article here.

Zombie Bee or Zombee

Photo by John Hafernik/SF State University

No, it’s not the title of a new B-Horror movie (Bee Movie?). Zombie bees are a real thing. A recent article from Scientific American explains how parasitizing flies — Apocephalus borealis — have been laying eggs in honeybees and turning them into zombies. The “zombified” bees then fly out of the hive at night with seemingly no destination. They end up dying and their bodies then release pupae that grow into adult flies.

The problem which was first noticed in honeybees earlier this year had only been known to infect bumble bees and paper wasps previously. The appearance of these parasitizing flies in honeybees came as quite a surprise and is thought to be a very new thing. Scientists are not sure how widespread the problem is so they have even set up a new web site to track zom-bees:

For more information or to read the full article, please visit Are Zombie Bees Infiltrating Your Neighborhood?

These types of stories sicken me. A bee yard theft in Abbotsford, B.C. has left a beekeeper without a substantial portion of their beekeeping business.

Usually when you hear of bee yard vandalism, it’s caused by teenagers or random people (often under the influence of something) who get a kick out of damaging other people’s property. However,  when a theft occurs, it’s usually someone who knows bees and has a bee yard of their own. I really can’t believe that anyone in the beekeeping community would steal another beekeeper’s bees and equipment. I hope that this person is caught and is punished appropriately.

Full story found here.

UPDATE April 25, 2013: This link was changed, so I have updated to link to instead.

Quirks and Quarks is one of my favourite radio shows on the CBC. Two years ago, host Bob McDonald interviewed Dr. Laurence Packer — bee researcher and author of the book called Keeping the Bees.

The 15-minute interview is quite compelling. It starts with a history of bees and the different types of bees throughout the world. Packer and McDonald then discuss Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) as well as the potential causes and effects of CCD on us as humans.

I also found it interesting that there is a type of bumble bee that is possibly extinct and hasn’t been seen in quite some time in South-Western Ontario.

This is a great episode of Quirks and Quarks and I hope that you give it a listen. Click the image below.

Title for link

If you would like to purchase Dr. Packer’s book, here is a link to purchase through Amazon:

Keeping the Bees
By: Laurence Packer
Published May 2011