Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Busy, Buzzy Bees

Bees are vitally important pollinators.  They are imported in droves to pollinate blueberries, almonds and other tree nuts as well as many types of the produce we eat every day.  Here are some fun facts about bees to tickle your thinking caps.

1. Bees evolved from the wasps of the family crabronidae.

2. Bees can be found on every continent except Antarctica.

3. Bees are great dancers, check out the difference between honey bees’ waggle dance and their round dance?

When a food source is very close to the hive (less than 50 meters), a forager performs a round dance. She does so by running around in narrow circles, suddenly reversing direction to her original  course.

A round dance, therefore, communicates distance (“close to the hive,” in this example), but not direction.

The waggle dance (Figure 2), or wag-tail dance, is performed by bees foraging at food sources that are more than 150 meters from the hive. This dance, unlike the round dance, communicates both distance and direction.

4. Honey bees can be trained to detect explosives.

5. 70% of the top 100 human foods, which supply about 90% of the world’s nutrition, are reliant on insect pollination?
6. Alexander the Great, the famous king who ruled the ancient world’s largest Western empire and had his corpse mellified, preserved in honey.

7.  Bumblebee colonies are often placed in greenhouse tomato production, because the frequency of buzzing that a bumblebee exhibits effectively releases tomato pollen.

8.  Apiphobia is the extreme and irrational fear of bees or bee stings.

9.  Swarming is the honey bee’s method of colony reproduction. The old queen and about half of the worker bees leave their former nest and seek a new home.

10.  Propolis or bee glue is a  sticky, resinous mixture that honey bees from trees. It is used as a sealant for unwanted open spaces in the hive. Propolis is also used in wood finishes, and is thought to give a Stradivarius violin its unique red color.