Honey bees

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Honey bees

Post by star_munir »

Do you know that Hazrat Ali is also called as Amir-u-lNahel which means Lord of honey bees.
Once in a war enemies decided that they will defeat army of Hazrat Ali by attack of honey bees. When they did so, honey bees started attacking and Hazrat Ali said what are you doing??Go away. All went away accept one big who want to see face of Mowla Ali [deedar]. Hazrat Ali than asked that honey bee you suck nectar from flwers, some are sour some are bitter than why honey from this nectar is sweet. Honey bee replied you know every thing why you are asking me. Hazrat Ali said Say in such a manner that every one here can listen it. Bee said we make it sweet by saying Ya Ali Ya Ali. It is in Surah Nehl of Quran that bees say name of Allah.
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Bees are Ismailies

Post by shamsu »

This story was related to me by Missionary Mohamedali Bhimani in Dallas.

Once Prince Aly Khan was visiting with a certain Jamat to do Jamati work as he used to do when Imam SMS was not keeping well. There was some commotion outside the Jamatkhana as there was a giant beehive right outside the Jamatkhana on its wall. Prince Aly Khan said that these are the ummat of my grandfather do not break this beehive.

Well the bees used to never sting the ismaili kids who would play with them. Many years later when the Jamat khana moved The moment the JK started at the new location, all the bees moved to the wall of the new Jamat khana and started on a new bee hive there.

thought you should know munir

Ya Aly Madad

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About the the Bees

Post by karimqazi »

Ya Ali Madad, Shamu and Munir

I would like to share my knowledge about the bees. The bees moved from the old jamatkhana to the new jamatkhana. This happened in a village called methan the district was sidphur in gujurat where i was born. I used to play with those bees when i was four or five years old and recently about eight or ten years ago we built a new jamatkhana and all thode bees moved their hive there. You can see this even today in the jamatkhana of methan.

Karim Qazi
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Post by jasmine »

That is really amazing.

Post by Guest »

I saw that beehive at old Jamatkhana in 1968 and again at new jamatkhana in 1992 when I visited that village as my forefather belongs to that village i,e Methan.the beehive is around one and half feet in diameter.
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Post by alinizar313 »

Anonymous wrote:I saw that beehive at old Jamatkhana in 1968 and again at new jamatkhana in 1992 when I visited that village as my forefather belongs to that village i,e Methan.the beehive is around one and half feet in diameter.
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Honey bee

Post by alinizar313 »

The above post under guest is by me. I forgot to log in
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Re: Bees are Ismailies

Post by from_Origin »

shamsu wrote: Prince Aly Khan said that these are the ummat of my grandfather do not break this beehive.
What is "ummat"?
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Re: Bees are Ismailies

Post by kmaherali »

from_Origin wrote:
What is "ummat"?
Ummat means community.
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Post by kmaherali »

Something I felt connected...

Notre Dame beekeeper waits to learn fate of his 18,000 bees

PARIS - The beekeeper of Notre Dame Cathedral is in limbo waiting to hear the fate of his 18,000 bees after the devastating fire tore through the church.

Nicolas Géant is hoping that the bees, that live in hives on the roof of the sacristy, survived the inferno.

"If you look at the photos from the sky you see that everything is burnt, there are holes in the roof, but you can still see the three bee hives," Géant told NBC News Wednesday.

The 51-year-old beekeeper - who keeps bees across France and in California - has been unable to check on the colonies since the fire broke out Monday ravaging the world-famous cathedral.

"The policeman and fireman won't let me go up there," he said with frustration.

The investigation into the fire continued Wednesday with no more clues as to how the fire broke out. More details as to the extent of the damage inside the cathedral's magnificent stone walls trickled out, with firefighters warning that there is still a real risk that the building might collapse.

Sixty fire personnel are currently onsite and monitoring for any "hot spots" that could weaken the already ravaged structure, Lt. Col. Gabriel Plus told reporters at a press conference Wednesday.

But there is still no news of the bees.

Géant said he has been flooded with messages from all around the world asking if the insects had survived the fire. "I will try again tomorrow," he said.

The bee-enthusiast said it had always been his dream to keep bees on the roof of "the most beautiful church in the world" and in 2012 that dream came true.

"There is a historic relationship between bees and the church, for a long time they used the wax from the bees to make the candles," he explained.

a man standing in front of a river
© Saphora Smith
The beekeeper is not the only person connected to Notre Dame who is struggling to move on after the fire destroyed a piece of their life. Olivier De Châlus, the chief tour guide at the cathedral, struggled Wednesday to look at the wreckage without welling up.

"It is my home," he told NBC News, standing on the banks of the Seine.

"This church is really a friend for me, I know the church as you can know a person - I spent so much time going to look at her and to find all the details that no one ever saw before," he said.

Châlus, who is also researching a PHD on the medieval construction of Notre Dame, said for seven hours he could not prize his eyes away from the burning cathedral. The next day it took him four hours to muster the courage to walk through the doors and see the damage.

"This church is my life, it's my parish first, it's the place I work as a guide," he said.


https://www.msn.com/en-ca/news/world/no ... ailsignout
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Post by kmaherali »

A very interesting article on significance of bees..

Honey Song, by Neil Rusch



The dhikr of the heart is like the humming of the bees, neither loud nor disturbing.4
—Ibn Ata’Illah (d. 1309)

For millennia bees have held high status as exemplars for religious and sacred practices. Moreover, the depth of this veneration and the respect accorded to bees is further confirmed in the archaeological record. Some of the earliest written texts tell us about bees with great reverence and perceptivity. From these, and there are many, I select two that are particularly appealing. In the Salt Magical Papyrus, housed in the British Museum (No. 10051, recto 2, 5–6), we read that the Sun-god Ra created earth and sea. Further, the myth reveals that Ra’s eyes, right and left, are sun and moon respectively. Ra weeps and the falling tears become bees.
When Ra weeps, the water which flows from his eyes upon the ground turns into working bees. They work in flowers and trees of every kind and wax and honey come into being.

The second example comes from the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, generally agreed to have been composed in the first millennium B.C. In this text, the chapter “Madhu Brahmana” tells that the secret essence of the Vedas themselves was called the “madhu-vidya or honey doctrine.” In the first verse we read:

This earth is the honey (madhu, the effect) of all beings, and all beings are the honey (madhu, the effect) of this earth. Likewise this bright, immortal person in this earth, and that bright immortal person incorporated in the body, both are madhu. He indeed is the same as that Self, that Immortal, that Brahman, that All.

The current tendency that would have us believe that honey is a commodity is pernicious. The idea that honey is a commercial product distances consumers from the primary source. Honey and bees are abstracted—removed from their organic context—and this, no doubt, is but one causal factor contributing to the current bee crisis, particularly in Western industrialised countries. If we listen to the myths, honey is not a commodity; it is a sacrament, the old wisdom keeps saying.

The language of myth contains its own logic and generates knowledge (epistemology) that takes forms that are poetical and musical rather than discursive. Re-kindling a respectful relationship between people and bees requires taking a new look at the old language. Mythological thinking employs the logic of association and metaphor, devices that stand in contrast to the analytical yes/no of disputation and categorization. Myth will always remain recalcitrant to reason, but therein lie its possibilities. There is an obvious need to adopt a shift that values equally relationality alongside analysis. As an alternative way of perceiving, myth can be highly visual; that is, visionary, as in thinking in pictures. In the Neolithic, without any means of writing, bees and honey were depicted in paintings. In the Drakensberg, South Africa, for example, there are seventy-six paintings depicting aspects of Bushman honey-gathering. These images are located in a two-hundred-square-kilometer area in the Ndedema Gorge and were found by Harald Pager. Many of these paintings are documented and exist in replicated form at the Rock Art Research Institute at the University of the Witwatersrand, including Pager’s renowned tracing of a honey gatherer that comes from the Matopos, Zimbabwe.To stand in these rock shelters in the presence of these paintings is to experience intimations of a reality different from the one we know.

For example honey, as creative substance, is crucial to the formation of the |Xam Bushman universe. Color, painting, and honey coalesce in their cosmology because honey, we are led to understand, is a primary substance, a sort of prima materia. If there were antelope prior to honey, then they were a pale version of themselves before honey of different types and colors was rubbed into their hides, at the time of creation. This action makes them recognizable for what they are (BC151 A2 1 052 04071–04074).5 Honey substance contributes to the emergence of individuated animal species such as Springbok, Hartebeest, Eland, Gemsbok, and Quagga. Honey is likewise formatory in creating the first Eland because honey as a priori substance becomes part of, and is integral to, the antelope when an old leather sandal is soaked in water and fed honey.

My own interest in |Xam knowledge is attracted to their understanding of bee communication.6 It appears that they intuitively understood the nature of vibroacoustics and therefore related to bees by means of vibration. This is astonishing because vibroacoustics is a neologism only recently adopted by bee researchers to better capture the nature of bee communication, both air particle oscillations that are heard by bees and substrate vibrations that are sensed (via the wax comb) but not heard. For their part, the |Xam said that they could “move bees to other people’s places” using a musical instrument called a !goin !goin that “vibrated the air.” The !goin !goin vibrates at a frequency in the order of ninety to 150 Hz and the effect of the sound produced is like that of a surround-sound-system. It reproduces an experience not unlike that of standing within a swarm of bees or the sound immersion amongst buzzing bees when taking honey from a hive. By association the !goin !goin has mnemonic potential and is capable of inducing co-presence with bees through the medium of sound. Thus, besides being used to move bees, the !goin !goin had an additional ritual role, which was to move people to dance the trance, or healing dance.

Vibroacoustics is known as such by the |Xam only because it is first a state of body intelligence, which in consonance with bee-sound imbues the body with !gi, or potency. Such insight is strengthened when we note that the word translated as beat, as in “the people beat the !goin !goin” or “beat the drum,” is the |Xam word !koukәn, also spelt !khaukәn, meaning to tremble.7 The implications are unequivocal; the trembling of the !goin !goin becomes a somatic experience felt as vibration in the body. Sound and vibration merge; both instrument and body tremble because in syntony they become synonymous. This suggests possibilities of communication, perhaps a proto-discourse, more ancient than words. In such a scenario there is no direct signification, of course, but assimilation and empathy arise on the basis of mimetic sound capacities. Out of this emerges a dialectic, obviously wordless, but nonetheless a dialogue of sorts, based on a correspondence of sound-vibration that the |Xam recognized. In turn, this mimetic and metamorphic relationship facilitated their intimate relationship with bees.

This knowledge is compelling and it accords with my own experience that afternoon years ago when I stood watching the bees pass through the veil of rock. To smell the honey redolent in the air, to be enveloped in sound and flying bees without harm, was to experience a fine vibration, a subtle state of consciousness.

Inspired by my own experience I built up an apiary of 130 bee hives. Each year, for over a decade, I harvested several tons of honey. In addition I migrated my hives to pollinate orchards of apple and pear. I learned much but I slowly became disillusioned by a mounting set of issues, now all too familiar: neonicotinoid pesticides, loss of habitat, eradication of nectar-producing plants, proliferation of electromagnetic waves and the ever-present pressures of commercialization and mechanization. My passion for bees was elevating and lucid but it slowly burned out. Any meaningful engagement with bees requires a re-evaluation, indeed demands rehabilitation of the senses and a recalibration of intelligence. This much I could understand but it took time before the way became clear again.

A honey hunter at a bees' nest, either smoking or using a plant charm (Matopos, Zimbabwe). International Bee Research Association poster based on Harald Pager tracing, South African Rock Art Digital Archive

https://parabola.org/2018/07/28/honey-s ... eil-rusch/
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Re: Honey bees

Post by EmilyGims »

star_munir wrote:Do you know that Hazrat Ali is also called as Amir-u-lNahel which means Lord of honey bees.
Once in a war enemies decided that they will defeat army of Hazrat Ali by attack of honey bees. When they did so, honey bees started attacking and Hazrat Ali said what are you doing??Go away. All went away accept one big who want to see face of Mowla Ali [deedar]. Hazrat Ali than asked that honey bee you suck nectar from flwers, some are sour some are bitter than why honey from this nectar is sweet. Honey bee replied you know every thing why you are asking me. Hazrat Ali said Say in such a manner that every one here can listen it. Bee said we make it sweet by saying Ya Ali Ya Ali. It is in Surah Nehl of Quran that bees say name of Allah.
What a wonderful story! I had never heard it before. But it is really incredibly wise and informative!
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Post by kmaherali »

Are Insects Capable of Moral Behavior?

Some 19th-century naturalists believed that bugs could think and should therefore definitely know that biting is out of line.


Still, Kirby, Spence, and other biologists wrestled with whether insects could be moral actors. Were they driven purely by instinct or capable of some sort of reason? And how could their more disgusting behaviors be reconciled with a universe ordered by God? Charles Darwin wrote that it was difficult to believe “that a beneficent & omnipotent God would have designedly created the Ichneumonidae with the express intention of their feeding within the living bodies of caterpillars.” Instead, he wrote, he preferred to “look at everything as resulting from designed laws, with the details, whether good or bad, left to the working out of what we may call chance.” “Not,” he added somewhat glumly, “that this at all satisfies me.”

Other naturalists presented insects as moral beings. Some chose to focus on a few charismatic species—notably bees, which had long been admired as sociable, productive creatures who were helpful to humans. But Samyn points to a different take on the value of insect life presented by Louis Figuier, a French writer who interpreted science for a popular audience. His 1868 book The Insect World fascinated and repulsed readers with descriptions of astonishing insect behavior. He ascribed conscious choice, industriousness, and sociality to the bugs. In some cases, he did this by anthropomorphizing them—describing a flea laying eggs as a “foreseeing mother,” for example. But often, the value he found was totally independent of human ethics, lying simply in their status as living creatures that play a part in the web of natural life. For example, he praised the “marvelous…industry, patience, and dexterity” and “biological intelligence” of parasitic fleas, ticks, and lice.


https://daily.jstor.org/are-insects-cap ... dium=email
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Post by kmaherali »

Climate Change: It’s a Buzzkill for Bumblebees, Study Finds

Behold the humble bumblebee.

Hot temperatures linked to climate change, especially extremes like heat waves, are contributing to the decline of these fuzzy and portly creatures, according to a study published Thursday in the journal Science.

Researchers found that bumblebee populations had recently declined by 46 percent in North America and by 17 percent across Europe when compared to a base period of 1901 to 1974. The biggest declines were in areas where temperatures spiked well beyond the historical range, which raises concerns that climate change could increase the risk of extinction for bees, which are already threatened by pesticide use and habitat loss.

“The scale of this decline is really worrying,” said Peter Soroye, a doctoral student in biology at the University of Ottawa and lead author of the study. “This group of organisms is such a critical pollinator in wild landscapes and agricultural regions.”

The common eastern bumblebee, or Bombus impatiens, shown below, is an important pollinator in eastern North America. It’s also the species you’re most likely to encounter in your garden.

Researchers found that observations of the bee had declined significantly over the past century. Their conclusions are based on samples gathered from unique locations by museums. (One “observation” can represent a single bee in a location, or multiple bees; either way, a sign that a colony is present.)

It’s an important insect: an earlier study by Cornell University researchers found that Bombus impatiens was twice as effective at pollinating pumpkin patches as were European honeybees.

Another North American species, the yellow-banded bumblebee, or Bombus terricola, saw a much larger decline over the same time period.

The research built on the work of Jeremy T. Kerr, a biology professor at the University of Ottawa and a co-author on the study. He had previously amassed a bee database with more than 500,000 observations of 66 species across North America and Europe.

The visualizations above reflect unique samples from the database, which spans the past century. The counts provide rough evidence for the magnitude of decline among bumblebee species. In their final analysis, the researchers used statistical methods to account for sampling and detection variation.

Having more than a century of data also allowed them to look for signals of climate change in the bumblebee declines.

“We predicted that it would have to do with these extremes in temperatures — not just average temperatures from climate change, gradually increasing, or making things hotter, but kind of the wild swings in temperatures and heat waves,” Mr. Soroye said.

The bees were, indeed, hardest-hit in places that had experienced these temperature spikes.

In addition to revealing where bee populations had declined, the model built by the researchers predicted some areas where bee populations were stable or had even increased, despite the warming climate.

“We can go to these bright spots where things are going well, and we can see what it is about those regions and those areas that’s allowing species to persist under climate change,” Mr. Soroye said. He added that researchers could take lessons from those spots and potentially apply them to other areas to help mitigate or possibly even reverse the declines seen.

Bumblebees are one piece of the ecological networks threatened by climate change.

“Bumblebees contribute to pollination services for a bunch of different plants, among them are things like tomatoes in greenhouses, but also a whole lot of other species in open-air agriculture,” Dr. Kerr said.

The bumblebees’ extra fuzz allows them to carry a lot of pollen on their bodies as they move from plant to plant in search of nectar. And, in North America, bumblebees are native pollinators, unlike honeybees, which were introduced mainly from Europe. Their tongue length (they can come in short, medium or long) and rapidly vibrating wings, which give bumblebees their characteristic buzzing sound, make them better than honeybees at pollinating certain plants, like sweet peppers and tomatoes, that are native to the Americas.

“These species used to be much more common,” Dr. Kerr said. “They are the ghosts from the childhoods of baby boomers in Europe and North America.”

Illustrations at:

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/202 ... ather.html

The Bees and Other Creatures of My Childhood Are Disappearing
So are my memories of them.

I read the other day that bumblebees are in sharp decline, victims of warming temperatures that raise their risk of extinction.

Researchers at the University of Ottawa and University College London, utilizing data from 550,000 observations, compared the distribution of 66 bumblebee species between the periods 1901 to 1974 and 2000 to 2014. The population fell 17 percent in Europe and plummeted a stunning 46 percent in North America.


https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/17/opin ... 0920200217
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Post by kmaherali »

21 Strange And Awesome Uses For Honey You Should Try

Honey has been around for about as long as humans. The first recorded drawing of a human harvesting honey is approximately 8,000 years old. Archaeologists have found honeycombs buried with pharaohs in Egypt. In Rome, soldiers used it to heal their wounds. In the Old Testament, Israel was described as the land of flowing milk and honey. Throughout history, honey has been a form of payment or trade.

Liquid gold, as some call it, is no longer considered to be as valuable as in ancient times. Nowadays, we walk into a grocery store and grab a plastic bear filled with honey and feed it to our families.

Of course, there are differences in the quality of honey out there. Pasteurized honey has been heated and valuable nutrients have been removed in the process. This is why many are now looking to purchase raw honey to enjoy its full benefits.

But what can you do with honey besides eating it? We’ve found 21 awesome and sometimes slightly strange uses for honey that you should definitely give a try.

Slide show:

https://www.thealternativedaily.com/21- ... use-honey/
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Post by kmaherali »

The bees are waking up, and yes, that's a good thing. Bees are our friends.\ My allergy to beestings doesn't mean I can't appreciate their beauty, and be hurt by their decline. So this weekend's reading is on the bees, colonies, and the future of insects. Let's appreciate them.

The bee microbiome can fight back against fungi that cause Colony Collapse Disorder

Biocontrol may help bees where other interventions, like chemical pesticides, have failed

Fungal diseases get less attention than they deserve.

They are a major cause of food insecurity and economic loss for food producers. Huge proportions of staple plant crops like wheat and potato are lost every year to disease. Likewise, fungal infections threaten honey production in honeybees by killing huge numbers of the animal, and likely contributes to Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD).

Human activity often determines how far and how fast a fungus will spread, because we transport crops and livestock long distances and cram huge populations of a single species together. The plight of the honeybee is a perfect example. In the first episode of the Netflix series “Rotten,” honeybees throughout the US are transported en masse every spring to California, where they pollinate the enormous almond crop. Bringing so many bees together makes the spread of pathogens and disease unavoidable, and beekeepers around the country have lost hives as a result.

Fungi can infect hives that are already stressed, and cause disease in larvae and pupae. It is possible to treat hives with fungicidal chemicals, but pathogens are becoming resistant. In addition, chemical fungicides can often kill helpful microbes because they are rather indiscriminate, and may even harm bees directly. Pesticides are often cited as a contributor to CCD, although there is much disagreement and controversy on this point. Regardless, we desperately need alternatives to chemical pesticides.

In work recently posted to the pre-print site bioRxiv, scientists show how Bombella apis, a bacterium that commonly resides in bee hives, can actively help to protect bees against fungal infection. Rather than spray any synthetic chemicals into a hive, these bacteria appear to secrete their own personal anti-fungals.

Biological control – or biocontrol – is the use of living organisms to protect plants or animals against pests and pathogens. Biocontrol to protect crop plants is a well-established idea. The introduction of the mynah bird from India to Mauritius in the 18th century is an early example, as the birds kept down locust populations, protecting crops. Some suggest that biocontrol was also used as early as 4000 years ago in Egypt when cats were domesticated to hunt scavenging rats, and in ancient China where ants were used to control citrus pest populations.

B. apis can inhibit the growth of two common fungal pathogens, including one that infects 70 percent of all known insect species

In the modern era, ecologist Rachel Carson noted in Silent Spring that Bacillus bacteria had been used to kill flour moth larvae in Germany in 1911, and to control populations of the Japanese beetle in the Eastern US in the late 1930s. Bacteria are integral to many newly developed biocontrol technologies, and research shows that we may be able to develop bacterial biocontrol to help honeybees resist fungal disease.

B. apis is a bacterium found in honeybee hives, especially in nectar and royal jelly stores, and in the little rooms called cells where larvae live. Scientists at Indiana University really love bees, and they are working hard to understand the role of the microbiome of the European honeybee. Earlier work has indicated that the presence of B. apis is correlated with increased resistance to the nasty Nosema fungal infections that have devastated honeybee hives all around the world. This suggests that the bacterium has a protective effect.

In the new study, a team led by Irene Newton showed that B. apis can inhibit the growth of two common fungal pathogens, Beauveria bassiana that infects 70 percent of all known insect species and is actually used as a biological insecticide to kill herbivorous insect pests like mites, and the more relevant pathogen Aspergillus flavus that targets honeybee brood and can also infect crop plants. When B. apis was grown together with either fungus – what microbiologists call co-culturing – the fungi were severely impaired in the ability to form spores. The authors suggest that this not only reduces the occurrence of infection and disease among bees in the hive, but it may also reduce the likelihood that bees who go out foraging could spread the infection to another hive or to other insects.

The protection offered by B. apis to honeybees makes it a solid biocontrol candidate. The population of B. apis within a hive can be increased by delivering more bacterial cells within a sugar solution that bees feed on. Sugar/syrup solutions are used routinely by beekeepers to supplement the diet of bees who struggle to gather enough nectar during winter.

In fact, live bacteria are not even needed for this protective effect, according to the study. Molecules the bacterium secretes can be collected and on their own display the same anti-fungal effect observed during co-culture experiments. This is interesting from the perspective of understanding B. apis physiology, as it confirms that the anti-fungal molecules are secreted by bacterial cells. The molecules are likely polyketides, a known class of antifungals involved in other symbiotic relationships that confer pest resistance. It’s possible that these secreted molecules can be applied directly to the hive in concentrated form, to help when a hive is under threat.

We can use modern biotechnology to enhance the innate protective effect of symbiotic bacteria

These findings complement a recent study from the University of Texas where researchers engineered Snodgrassella alvi bacteria from the bee microbiome to drastically improve bee defenses against the virus DWV, which causes deformed wings and an inability to fly, and Varroa mites, both of which are heavily implicated in colony collapse. The mite especially has been blamed for devastating losses in the US honeybee population. The engineered S. alvi bacteria were sprayed into a hive in a sugar solution, so the bees took the new bacterial species into their guts. According to that study, the bacteria induces a bee immune response that kills mites and blocks viral infection. The result was a huge increase in survival rate in mite-infested bees, and an impressive reduction in deaths caused by the virus.

The Texas study shows that we can use modern biotechnology to enhance the innate protective effect of symbiotic bacteria. But the Indiana investigation underlines that there are still some interactions between naturally occurring microbes that we do not yet fully understand, but which impact how we should manage our food ecosystems. We now know that B. apis has a clear beneficial effect for honeybees, so anti-microbial compounds added to a hive to fight infection must be chosen carefully to avoid damaging the beneficial B. apis population.

Biocontrol is not expected to replace chemical fungicides entirely, but experts believe it can be part of an integrated pest management approach to sustainable food production, along with promoting biodiversity and reducing habitat loss for the animals and microbes that keep ecosystems functioning. We will lose a lot more than honey if colonies continue to collapse.

Video and more...

https://massivesci.com/articles/bacteri ... s+the+bees
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Post by kmaherali »

What the Honeybees Showed Me

The colony entered my dreams, my thoughts, my conversations. Something about me had changed.


The thing is that honeybees are so strange. When you look at a dog or cat — the arrangement of eyes, nose, mouth and ears — you are able to recognize and relate to a face. But with a bee you’d need a microscope, and even then the body is so alien that you might have to reach for diagrams to make sense of her: she has five eyes; her “ears” are in her antennae and in the crooks of her knees; her teeth are like pincers, arranged outside and to either side of her head. Which is to say nothing of the colony. A colony is nebulous and shifting; when it takes flight as a swarm it can seem to belong more to the air than anything in the material world. You can’t draw a ring around it; can’t make a body out of it. How, then, to begin relating to a superorganism of this kind — one I’d been tasked with keeping?

I was fascinated by the bees — though not, I realized, very confident about “keeping.” Jobs, rented rooms, relationships — all had come and gone in the last few years, each relocation seeming to hold the promise of something better or more. Perhaps this transience was just the way of things. Still, it bothered me. Did I lack the capacity for longevity? Was I missing the skills needed to sustain? And in a much wider sense, hadn’t our ability to maintain our environments and fellow creatures, even ourselves, reached a state of crisis? Humans and bees have coexisted for many thousands of years; how could it be, after all this time, that colonies were failing — that many wild species were in decline? How was it that we were witnessing great die-offs and extinctions, that we seemed to be failing the very creatures we knew ourselves to be dependent on?


https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/24/opin ... 778d3e6de3
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Post by kmaherali »

The Fungal Evangelist Who Would Save the Bees

How mushrooms could solve colony collapse disorder.

BEE HERE NOW: Paul Stamets, a mycologist on a mission, wears a bee beard to promote honey bee health and funding for a Honey Bee and Pollinator Research Center at Washington State University.


When I showed up at Starship Agarikon, I found Stamets sitting on the deck fiddling around with a mason jar and a blue plastic dish. It was the prototype for a bee feeder he had invented. The jar dribbled sugar water laced with fungal extracts into the dish, and bees crawled through a chute to get to it. Even by Stamets’s standards, this project was a big headline. His 2018 study, co-authored with entomologists at the Washington State University bee lab, had been accepted by the journal Nature Scientific Reports. He and his team had shown that extracts of certain fungi could be used to reduce bee mortality dramatically.

About a third of global agricultural output depends on pollination from animals, particularly honeybees, and the precipitous decline in bee populations is one of the many pressing threats to humanity. A number of factors contribute to the syndrome known as colony collapse disorder. Widespread use of insecticides is one. Habitat loss is another. The most insidious problem, however, is the varroa mite, appropriately named Varroa destructor. Varroa mites are parasites that suck fluid from bees’ bodies and are vectors for a range of deadly viruses.

Give Paul Stamets an insoluble problem and he’ll toss you a new way it can be decomposed, poisoned, or healed by a fungus.

Wood-rotting fungi are a rich source of antiviral compounds, many of which have long been used as medicines, particularly in China. After 9/11, Stamets collaborated with the U.S. National Institutes of Health and Department of Defense in Project BioShield, a search for compounds that could be used to fight viral storms unleashed by biological terrorists. Of the thousands of compounds tested, some of Stamets’s extracts from wood-rotting fungi had the strongest activity against a number of deadly viruses, including smallpox, herpes, and flu. He had been producing these extracts for human consumption for several years—it is largely these products that have made Fungi Perfecti into a multimillion-dollar business. But the idea of using them to treat bees was a more recent brainwave.

The effects of the fungal extracts on the bees’ viral infections were unambiguous. Adding a one percent extract of amadou (or Fomes) and reishi (Ganoderma) to bees’ sugar water reduced deformed wing virus eighty-fold. Fomes extracts reduced levels of Lake Sinai virus nearly ninety-fold, and Ganoderma extracts reduced it forty-five-thousand-fold. Steve Sheppard, a professor of entomology at Washington State University and one of Stamets’s collaborators on the study, observed that he had not encountered any other substance that could extend the life of bees to this extent.


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A Man Found 15,000 Bees in His Car After Grocery Shopping

An off-duty firefighter in Las Cruces, N.M., whose hobby is beekeeping, safely removed the swarm from the man’s car in an Albertsons supermarket parking lot.

By the time a man returned from a 10-minute stop at an Albertsons supermarket in Las Cruces, N.M., a swarm of honey bees had invaded his car through an open window.Credit...Las Cruces Fire Department Engine 2

He had just finished grocery shopping, but a New Mexico man got much more than he bargained for when he returned to his car in the store’s parking lot: A swarm of 15,000 honey bees had taken over the back seat.

The man, whose name was not released, had left a window down in a Buick while he made a 10-minute stop at an Albertsons supermarket on Sunday afternoon in Las Cruces, N.M., the authorities said.

It wasn’t until he had started to drive away that he noticed that something was amiss, according to the Las Cruces Fire Department.

“Then he turned back and looked and like was, ‘Holy Cow,’ ” Jesse Johnson, an off-duty firefighter and paramedic whose hobby is beekeeping, said of the man’s reaction in an interview on Wednesday. “He called 911 because he didn’t know what to do.”

Mr. Johnson, 37, a 10-year member of the Fire Department and a father of two, said he had just finished a family barbecue when he got the call from the Fire Department and figured that he could safely remove and relocate the bees to his property.

“I’ll do anything to keep people from killing the bees,” he said.

It’s common in the spring for colonies of bees to split, with a swarm following a queen to another location, according to Mr. Johnson. He suggested that the bees, which collectively weighed about 3½ pounds, might have come from a parapet, gutter system or home in a nearby neighborhood. Mr. Johnson said the car’s open window presented an inviting place for the bees to take shelter until they could find a more permanent home.

“Luckily, when bees are swarming, they’re pretty docile,” he said. “They don’t have a home to protect for a moment. It’s much more intimidating than it is dangerous.”

But don’t tell that to the driver of the car, who Mr. Johnson said watched him wrangle the bees from a healthy distance in the parking lot of Albertsons.

“He didn’t want to have anything to do with it,” he said. “He was worried because the car was borrowed from a friend.”

Protected by a white beekeeper’s jacket and veil, Mr. Johnson approached the car with an empty hive box that he said he had treated with lemongrass oil.

“It really mimics the scent of the queen,” he said.

While this was one of the larger swarms he has relocated, Mr. Johnson said he could have completed the delicate task in just five to 10 minutes. But he didn’t want to rush it, so he said he spent 20 to 30 minutes at the scene. He put the bees in the empty hive box and loaded it into his truck for the ride home.

The Fire Department estimated that 15,000 bees were removed.

“The meat and potatoes part was real quick,” Mr. Johnson said, adding, “I didn’t want to leave him with 1,000 bees still in his car looking for their queen.”

No major injuries resulted from the encounter, according to the authorities, though they noted that a supermarket security guard and at least one firefighter were stung.

“One guy got stung on the lip, and we made fun of him the next morning,” Mr. Johnson said.

A representative for the supermarket chain Albertsons declined to comment on Wednesday and referred inquiries to the Las Cruces Fire Department.

Chief Jason Smith of the Las Cruces Fire Department said in an interview on Wednesday that Mr. Johnson had distinguished himself as an emergency responder.

“He was definitely willing to come down and help out the crew,” Chief Smith said.

The Fire Department ordinarily doesn’t remove bee swarms, but Chief Smith said that because the bees were in a relatively high-traffic area and were docile, it made sense for Mr. Johnson to remove them.

“We take a more patient or deliberate approach to try to let the bees do what they need to to find a new home,” he said.

Mr. Johnson said he had four hives at his home and has had as many as 12. His efforts on Sunday will come with a sweetener, he said: honey.

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Post by kmaherali »

I Scream. You Scream. Bees Scream, Too.

When threatened by giant hornets, Asian honeybees use their wings to make a noise that sounds like a cry for help.

Bees do not scream with their mouths, but with their bodies. When giant hornets draw near and threaten their colony, Asian honeybees cock their abdomens into the air and run while vibrating their wings. The noise can sound eerily like a human scream.

In a paper published Wednesday in the journal Royal Society Open Science, researchers describe the Asian honeybee’s unique acoustic signal, which is called an antipredator pipe. The researchers colloquially refer to it as a “bee scream.”

“It’s like a shriek,” said Hongmei Li-Byarlay, an entomologist at Central State University in Ohio, who was not involved with the new research. Dr. Li-Byarlay added that her colleagues who have observed the sounds before compared the noise to “crying.”

The bees make this sound as their nests are threatened by the Vespa soror hornet, which hunts in packs and can dispatch a bee hive in a matter of hours.

Heather Mattila, a behavioral ecologist at Wellesley College in Massachusetts and an author on the study, first heard the bee scream in Vietnam in 2013. She was studying how Asian honeybees smear animal dung around their nests to ward off V. soror and Vespa mandarinia, more famously known as the murder hornet. The behavior showed the bees’ highly evolved social organization, said Lien Thi Phuong Nguyen, a wasp researcher at the Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology in Hanoi and an author on the new paper.

Asian honeybees. The top yellow-marked bee is in the posture of an antipredator piper, with her abdomen up and exposing her Nasonov gland at the tip.Credit...Heather Mattila

Dr. Mattila noticed the hives exploded in sound when V. soror hornets drew near. When she stuck a recorder at the entrance of a hive fringed by hornets, she heard a cacophony of noise.

While she recognized some sounds bees are known to make — hisses, beeps and pipes — Dr. Mattila, who has studied European honeybees for 24 years, had never heard anything as loud and frenzied as this.

The researchers placed recorders inside hives and video cameras outside the entrances to record the honeybee soundscapes. The whirring, helicopter sounds of the hornets often drowned out the bees, so they also recorded hives reacting to paper glazed with hornet pheromones.

Dr. Mattila brought the recordings back to the United States, where Hannah Kernen, now a research technician at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, helped analyze the recordings.

As Ms. Kernen and Dr. Mattila pored over nearly 30 hours of bee noise, which contained about 25,000 instances of acoustic signaling, they felt confident they were listening to a new sound — a piercing alarm signal that shared traits with animal shrieks, including unpredictable frequencies and loud volumes.

For months, the researchers compared the video recordings inside the hive to the ones outside the entrance to see if they could isolate a moment where the new sound could be first heard in both videos and pinned down to a single bee.

Dr. Mattila listened to these recordings for hours into the night. “I would get chills and start to worry about them, even though the recordings are from years ago and the bees are long dead,” she said. “There is something very human and recognizable in the sounds.”

Vespa soror hornets making off with Asian honeybee broods on a honeycomb.Credit...Heather Mattila

One day, past 2:30 a.m., a sleepless Dr. Mattila finally saw a video that captured a scream and the bee behind it: an agitated worker bee approaching a paper perfumed with hornet. She was raising her abdomen and exposing her Nasonov gland, a thin white strip at her rear end that can release pheromones.

The researchers listened to the audio inside the hive from the same time period and looked at the spectrograms, visualizations of sound frequencies, which showed similar sounds occurring inside and outside the hive. This confirmed the bees screaming outside the hive were making the same noises as the bees screaming inside the hive.

“It was a Eureka moment, and I’ve only had a couple of those,” Dr. Mattila said.

The researchers suggest the antipredator pipe noise functions as an alarm signal, as the production of screams peaked as V. soror hornets hovered outside the colony’s entrance. The data is correlative, so the scream’s exact function is still unknown.

The study shows “how much more complex the organization of collective defense behavior is” in Asian honeybees than previously thought, said Ebi Antony George, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Lausanne in Switzerland who was not involved with the research. Far less is known about Asian honeybees than European honeybees, he added. Asian honeybees are mostly studied in the wild, often nesting in hard-to-reach spots and will flee the hive if stressed.

It is now autumn in Vietnam, when giant hornets rear new queens and males and escalate their group raids on honeybee hives. The pandemic has kept Dr. Mattila and other researchers from returning there; but now she knows, somewhere across the world, the hives are alive with the sound of bee screams.

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Post by kmaherali »

Honeybees Survived for Weeks Under Volcano Ash After Canary Islands Eruption

For roughly 50 days, thousands of honeybees sealed themselves in their hives, away from deadly gas, and feasted on honey. “It is a very empowering story,” one entomologist said.

About 50 days after the Cumbre Vieja volcano in the Canary Islands erupted in September, unleashing lava flows and destroying homes, churches and stores, a beekeeper returned to one of the devastated villages to see what the volcano had done to his hives.

What he found shocked beekeepers and delighted scientists: Inside five hives that had been covered in volcanic ash were tens of thousands of bees, still alive and buzzing away.

Not only had the bees managed to survive the heat and noxious gases of the volcano, but they also had avoided starvation by feeding off stores of honey inside the hive, said Antonio Quesada, a beekeeper in the Canary Islands and a spokesman for the Gran Canaria Beekeepers Association.

Their survival provided a glimmer of good news for La Palma — a resort island in the Canary archipelago of Spain — which was devastated by the eruption, which continues to spew lava. The island of about 80,000 people employs more than 100 beekeepers who manage hives that hold millions of honeybees, and who are vital workers in the local ecosystem and key economic players for those who sell honey throughout the region.

The bees’ ability to stay alive in such dire conditions was also a reminder of their toughness, a characteristic that is often overlooked amid news stories about the very real threats they face from pesticides, parasites and the loss of habitat.

“It’s incredible how such a tiny animal that has been around for hundreds of thousands of years can maintain that resilience, that ability to survive,” Mr. Quesada said in an interview on Wednesday.

The bees, known in the region as the Canary black bee, used propolis, a resin-like mixture sometimes known as bee glue, to seal themselves inside the hive, he said.

“They protected themselves from the gases” of the volcano, Mr. Quesada said. The bees also made sure to leave open a tiny pathway to the outside that they could later use to get out, he said.

That behavior is typical of honeybees, who use propolis, which they produce from substances they collect from plants and buds, to plug tiny gaps in the hive to protect it from rainwater and drafts, said Nathalie Steinhauer, a researcher in the department of entomology at the University of Maryland.

Still, the fact that the bees on the island managed to spend weeks inside the hive insulating themselves from such oppressive conditions was surprising — and even inspirational, Dr. Steinhauer said.

“It is a very empowering story,” she said. “It tells a lot about the resilience of honeybees.”

For over a decade, beekeepers and researchers have raised alarms about bees — which play a critical role in agriculture — dying at high rates, even during the summer when bees are producing food and caring for their young.

Honeybees are not endangered, and beekeepers are able to replace lost colonies throughout the year, said Dr. Steinhauer, who is also a science coordinator for the Bee Informed Partnership, a consortium of universities and research laboratories.

But the high mortality rate is concerning and especially stressful for beekeepers, who must spend considerable time and money replacing dying colonies.

In the United States, the mortality rate has been particularly high, even though the total number of honeybee colonies has remained fairly stable over the last 20 years, according to the Bee Informed Partnership.

Still, honeybees remain adaptable and resourceful, said Keith S. Delaplane, the director of the Honey Bee Program at the University of Georgia and a professor of entomology.

Bees will build hives in tree hollows or abandoned tires, he said.

Stories abound of honeybees that survived forest fires after the worker bees, fanning their wings, managed to lower the temperatures of the hives. When a fire destroyed the Cathedral of Notre-Dame, a beekeeper who kept several hives on the roof was thrilled to find that the bees had stayed alive by gorging on honey.

Dr. Delaplane said entomologists often traded stories of colonies that survived after their hives were swept away by floods.

In the case of the hives in La Palma, the bees were also lucky. The volcanic ash that fell on the hives was porous and light, which allowed for oxygen to enter, Elías González, president of the ADS Beekeepers of La Palma, told EFE, a Spanish news agency.

Hundreds of other hives were also saved and have been taken to other parts of La Palma. Those bees cannot return to the villages where they once were because so much of the vegetation they rely on is covered in volcanic ash or hardened lava, Mr. Quesada said.

The story of the bees that lived through a volcano is likely to become famous among entomologists, Dr. Delaplane said.

“You can’t get much more dramatic than volcanic ash burying bee hives and the bees surviving,” he said. “It’s a little piece of happy news and heaven knows we need it.”

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How Are the Bees?

Post by kmaherali »


The collapse of our pollinators may no longer be headlines, but we’re still killing their buzz.

June 28, 2022

Chelsea Cook grew to love the low hum of the honeybees she studied as a graduate student in Boulder, Colorado. Their characteristic buzz, she learned, was audible cooperation, the result of worker bees fanning their wings at the colony’s entrance to circulate the air and cool the hive. Cook often watched as the insects responded quickly to minute adjustments in temperature: When a cloud drifted over the sun, the fanners disappeared, and when it emerged again, they promptly took up their places.

Fascinated by how strictly the insects were managing their environment, Cook conducted an experiment. “I found an old hot plate and a pickle jar, created mesh cages, put a bee inside, and heated them up,” she says. Previous research had established that honeybees regularly fan to control temperature, humidity, and carbon dioxide. But over and over, the bee on Cook’s hot plate sat still. Confused, she put two bees together. “Sure enough,” with a companion, “they fanned.” Honeybees, she found, use social information—paying attention to each other—to respond to environmental changes.1

LOSS OF THE WILD: A native bee feeds on fireweed in Alaska. Climate change is taking a toll on native bee populations and the plants they serve. Nearly 1 in 4 native bee species is at an increasing risk of extinction. The resultant rise in grassland could lead to worse wildfires. Photo by Sean McDermott.

As global temperatures rise, understanding how bees will respond is becoming increasingly important. Back in 2006, beekeepers in Pennsylvania were mystified when their previously healthy hives suddenly emptied, a phenomenon dubbed colony collapse disorder. Beekeepers across the country soon saw similar disappearances: There were no dead bodies inside the barren hives to suggest starvation, and neighboring bees, who often rob hives, seemed to avoid the unprotected honey.

It’s a mystery that’s never been fully solved. But while reports of colony collapse disorder have waned over the last decade, the fate of bees has not improved. Honeybee mortality remains startlingly high, says Nathalie Steinhauer, the research coordinator for the Bee Informed Partnership, a nonprofit organization that started conducting extensive annual bee surveys in response to colony collapse. Steinhauer explains that for the last decade, around 30 to 40 percent of the United States’ honeybees have died every year.2 While intensive management has been able to keep honeybee populations roughly stable, that’s much “higher than what beekeepers consider acceptable.” Nor are the 4,000 native bee species in North America doing any better: Nearly 1 in 4 of them is at increasing risk of extinction.3

From 2008 to 2013, wild bee populations plummeted by 23 percent.

Scientists have laid the blame for bee declines on a combination of factors, like the proliferation of pesticides, and parasites like the Varroa mite, which can carry deadly pathogens. While those are major stressors on their own, they are now exacerbated by climate change, painting a disquieting future.

“Honeybees are absolutely critical to our agriculture,” says Cook, now a biologist and founder of the Cook Lab at Marquette University in Wisconsin. Three-quarters of food crops rely on honeybees for at least some pollination,4 making honeybees more important than fertilizer.5 While some plants can self-pollinate, others, like tomatoes and potatoes, don’t release their pollen until bees arrive to vibrate their flowers6; others may require bumblebee saliva to encourage them to flower.7 Even trees previously thought to self-fertilize likely have pollinators contributing to their seed production. Yet globally, pollinators are now declining so quickly the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations warns their loss may spark a food crisis.4

The problem extends far behind the dinner table: Over 80 percent of wild plants also depend on pollination, often from native bee species, which have evolved alongside the plants they serve. But from 2008 to 2013, wild bee populations plummeted by 23 percent.8 If these bees disappear, says Diana Cox-Foster, an entomologist and research leader with the United States Department of Agriculture, “the landscape would basically regress back to grassland.” Long before extinction, she worries about the feedback loops losing wild bee populations may spark: Fewer bees may encourage grass growth, for example, leading to worse wildfires. “Having healthy pollinators and pollinator plantings helps you avoid a tinderbox landscape.”

To forestall these crises, it’s critical to find ways to help bees navigate shrinking habitats and a warming world. Cook’s work is now focused on helping beekeepers manage their colonies as the climate shifts. “We’re stewards,” she says, “We have to figure out how to treat them better.”

American agriculture relies on the hard work of both managed hives and wild bees: Native bees can perform much of the pollination farmers need,9 and significantly contribute to crop production. But when most people think of bees, they think of the humble Apis mellifera, more commonly known as a European honeybee. They areessentially insect livestock, brought to the United States to pollinate Old World plants also introduced by colonists. They are as closely managed as other domesticated animals. Many commercial beekeepers transport their honeybee hives to multiple locations a year, servicing almond orchards in California in the early spring and returning to the Great Plains for honey production later in the summer. But for the last decade, the same number of bees have been making less and less honey—and, for beekeepers, less and less money. In 2021, because of extensive drought that withered crops across the Midwest, the USDA reported that honey production dropped by a staggering 126 million pounds, or about 14 percent per colony.

Bees’ incredible ability to transform nectar into honey has long made them humanity’s friend. But hives also rely on honey to survive long after summer blooms have faded. If flowers have died off but winter cold doesn’t set in, bees may fruitlessly keep foraging, becoming nutritionally stressed. “If they used too many resources in the fall or emerge before flowers are available to feed on in the spring, there’s phenology mismatches,” a gap in the timing between bees and the flowers they depend on, says Christina Grozinger, the director of the Center for Pollinator Research at Penn State.

COLD SOLUTION: When honeybees are kept artificially cold, they don’t need to forage, be treated for mites, or be fed by their keepers. This cold storage unit at a shop in Fort Collins, Colorado, features insulated panels and smart sensors to control temperature, carbon dioxide, and humidity. Photo by Kimberly Drennan.

In the summer, honeybee workers transition through different states as they age, working as nurse bees when they are young, and foraging when they grow older. Winter bees, conversely, are physiologically different, and can survive for months. But if the colony is actively searching for nectar into the fall, they aren’t producing winter bees, meaning they aren’t as prepared to survive the winter.

“When spring comes, the older bees die at rates that exceed the replacement rate,” says Gloria DeGrandi-Hoffman, research leader at the Carl Hayden Bee Research Center. Thirty years ago, she adds, “If you’d lose 10 percent of your colonies, that was a bad year for you.” That’s in part because, like humans, bees are more likely to get sick when they’re mingling. Longer autumns and warmer winters are also extending bees’ flying time—helping spread Varroa mites and their diseases and causing surging numbers of deaths.

Fewer bees may encourage grass growth, leading to worse wildfires.

These climate impacts are likely exaggerated by land use changes, which reduce bees’ ability to adapt to new challenges. The increased use of herbicides and insecticides has reduced the diversity of plants bees used to depend on, while increasing their toxic load. Neonicotinoids, a class of insecticides that affect bees’ central nervous system, are particularly harmful. Bees can be exposed simply by visiting a field where they have previously been sprayed, bringing the chemical back to the hive with them. These chemicals are now used on most corn and soybean fields in the U.S., and persist in soil for years, which is why the European Union has banned three of the most common neonics.

In the U.S., a 2020 study by Penn State researchers found that in the last two decades, the toxicity to which bees are exposed rose by 121 times in the Midwest, primarily because of neonicotinoid use.10 While exposure may not immediately kill bees, even low doses of chemicals can exacerbate other stresses.11 Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, for example, severely impacts bumblebees’ ability to control their temperature.12

While it may be hard to parse these various harms, DeGrandi-Hoffman uses a simple metric to understand how the beekeeping industry is doing. “If you look at companies that sell packages of bees or queens, they’re sold out every year. They can’t make enough to replace colonies that are lost.”

Honeybees evolved to survive winter by huddling into a thermoregulated cluster, surrounding their queen. When anthers stop releasing pollen and petals begin to shrivel, worker bees drag the male drones out of the hive into the crisp fall air, a sacrifice completed by chewing off their wings. The test of the hive’s endurance has begun. The bees’ huddle expands and contracts. It is a dying time.

To help slow these crippling winter losses, beekeepers are increasingly turning to cold storage. When honeybees are kept artificially cold, they don’t need to forage, be treated for mites, or be fed by their keepers, cutting down on costs and reducing mortality. As natural winters warm, states like Idaho and the Dakotas have been early adopters in adapting cold vegetable storage facilities for commercial beekeeping operations. Mike Lamoreaux, a business developer at Gellert, a climate control company that started out storing potatoes, says the practice has taken off over the last decade. Lamoreaux started overwintering bees in 2014. “We’d literally go to trade shows and people would stand in line, waiting to sign up,” Lamoreaux says.

Cold storage isn’t a catch-all solution. “It’s not a hospital,” Lamoreaux says. He warns people to make sure their bees are as healthy as possible before bringing them in. Like so much in modern agriculture, there’s also a question of scale: The costs and risks of these facilities work best for large-scale operations, who can afford to lose several hundred hives if something goes wrong.

To make cold storage more accessible for hobbyists and smaller operations, Cook, along with her business partner Kimberly Drennan, an architect, recently designed a mobile climate-controlled apiary. The size of a horse trailer, it has insulated panels and smart sensors to control temperature, carbon dioxide, and humidity. After winning seed money from the USDA, along with a grant from the Advanced Industries Office of Economic Development in Colorado, their company HiveTech tested a prototype in apiaries this winter. Despite supply chain shortages, early results suggest the unit increased survival three times, compared to colonies that remained outside. Providing cold storage at home cuts down on the need to transport hives, reducing both costs and mortality, and helps beekeepers better manage mite populations and their hives’ nutrition. “It puts the control in the hands of the beekeepers,” Cook says.

To help slow crippling winter losses, beekeepers are turning to cold storage.

These kinds of practical solutions are increasingly urgent. As honey yields drop, financial pressures on beekeepers are increasing. If apiaries can’t stay in business, their efforts to keep bee populations stable will also vanish. “By adapting management—like cold storage—we can help bees make it,” says DeGrandi-Hoffman.

Wild bees, meanwhile, have fewer ways to adapt. Grozinger’s research suggests that across the country, many places that economically depend on wild pollinators will see their populations dwindle. Grozinger and her collaborators tracked wild bee abundance across the U.S., finding many of the places where bees are declining the fastest, like California’s Central Valley, are also places that currently rely on pollinators. “This means growers will be more dependent on purchasing managed pollinators, like honeybees, to produce their crops,” she says. This imbalance is already causing declining production: In another collaborative study, she found that poor seed generation in Pennsylvania black cherry trees may be due to the loss of wild andrenid bees, one of its most important pollinators.13

The urgency of understanding these relationships is heightened by how quickly some of these bees are vanishing from the landscape. The first bee added to the endangered species list was the rusty patched bumblebee, a wild bee which historically ranged from the upper Midwest to the East Coast, but others may soon join it. While honeybees are social animals, the majority of the United States’ 4,000 types of native bees are solitary, meaning they don’t have the help of a hive in sharing resources. “You can think about them like a single mom,” Grozinger says, “whereas honeybees are like a village.”

Adding to their vulnerability, many native bees also specialize on a small number of plants with a short blooming season, like the Mojave poppy bee, which U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is currently considering listing as endangered. It is the only pollinator of the bearpoppy, a scrappy yellow flower that thrives in the harsh conditions of the desert, although mining, extreme heat, and drought have recently erased the wildflower from half its range.

The decline of wild bees will affect entire ecosystems, says Ellen Moss, a research associate at Newcastle University. Rising temperatures are increasingly disrupting the plants bees rely on, leading to food shortages. Moss recently conducted a study that simulated an increase in temperature of 1.5 degrees Celsius and a 40 percent increase in rainwater, over two growing seasons.14 She found that floral abundance was reduced by almost half—causing the hard-working pollinators to visit each flower more frequently to collect the same amount of pollen or nectar, while the wildflowers themselves produced fewer seeds. “I was surprised by how strong the temperature effect on floral abundance was,” Moss says.

Moss is concerned that writ large, each of these problems—climate change, habitat fragmentation, lower flower abundance—may compound. But so far, few researchers have looked outside of agriculture at the impact on non-crop plants, just as few studies have focused on wild bees and other pollinators. “No species exist in isolation,” she says. If climate change tips the balance, “it could permanently change the composition of communities.”

The unit of importance for bees is its society, not the individual.

Still, bee experts say it’s not too late to take steps to help wild bee populations. The silver lining is that bees reproduce quickly. “They can rebound from disaster surprisingly well,” Grozinger says. She hopes to find ways to design climate resilient landscapes for bees. “If we provide a diversity of options and identify places that may provide shelter from extreme climate variation, they can find what they need in the environment,” she says. In regions where increased rainfall is predicted, for instance, Grozinger is trying to determine where there might be natural rain shadows, preserving those key islands as habitat for pollinators. A recent study in Sciencesuggests that conserving forage for wild bees could also minimize the toxicity of glyphosate—further highlighting the importance of wildflower plantings and conserving native habitat.12

Grozinger’s lab has developed a public tool where you can get a bee’s eye view of the landscape near you, gauging the quality of pollinator habitat across the U.S. and encouraging people to make bee-friendly gardens. Many efforts to increase “bee pasture,” as Cox-Foster calls it, have added rippling benefits. For example, sowing cover crops—plants intended to cover the soil rather than be harvested—under almond trees not only doesn’t compete with almond blossoms, but improves the soil quality. Similarly, adding native plantings to solar and wind farms has been highly effective at alleviating their environmental impacts.15 Even neighborhood projects to plant flowers for bees along curbs and roadways can help reduce habitat fragmentation.16 Tucked into the recent infrastructure bill is a five-year program that provides $10 million in grants to replant roadsides for pollinators, and an additional $250 million will be distributed for invasive plant removal along transportation routes.17

Helping bees navigate a quickly shifting climate is a daunting task. But as a honeybee knows well, even minute actions add up. “The reason I study honeybees is their complex societies,” Cook says. The monarchy metaphor—the queen rules the hive—is misleading. The hive’s elegant division of labor is controlled by its thousands of workers, who make decisions at a local level that, when acted out, affect the entire colony. This wasn’t inevitable; like many social insects, honeybees evolved from a solitary ancestor. To survive, they adapted to persist through difficult conditions communally. “Everyone is working toward the collective good,” Cook says. “The unit of importance for bees is its society, not the individual.” These are choices, she adds, “that change how we view solutions.”

Lois Parshley is a journalist and photographer. Follow her work @loisparshley.

Lead image: Santypan / Shutterstock

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When the Queen Died, Someone Had to Tell the Bees

Post by kmaherali »

A report that the royal beekeeper had informed Queen Elizabeth II’s bees of her death received some mockery, but it has been a tradition for centuries.

John Chapple, the beekeeper at Buckingham Palace, reportedly informed Queen Elizabeth II’s bees of her death.Credit...Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

LONDON — As news of the death of Queen Elizabeth II reverberated through the world, a headline over the weekend puzzled many on social media: The Daily Mail’s exclusive that the “royal beekeeper has informed the Queen’s bees that the Queen has died.”

Did bees need to be told about human affairs? Would they have any sort of opinion on the matter?

But some beekeepers, backed by folklore historians, say “telling the bees” is a standard practice that goes back centuries, with potentially grave consequences if not followed.

“Der Bienenfreund” (“The Bee Friend”), an 1863 painting by the German artist Hans Thoma. “Telling the bees” is a custom practiced in Britain and other parts of Europe.

“It’s a very old and well-established tradition, but not something that’s very well-known,” said Mark Norman, a folklorist and the author of “Telling the Bees and Other Customs: The Folklore of Rural Crafts.”

The tradition holds that bees, as members of the family, should be informed of major life events in the family, especially births and deaths. Beekeepers would knock on each hive, deliver the news and possibly cover the hive with a black cloth during a mourning period. The practice is more commonly known in Britain but is also found in the United States and other parts of Europe, Mr. Norman said.

Bee hives feature in “The Widow,” an 1895 painting by the British artist Charles Napier Hemy.

In the 18th and 19th centuries, it was believed that neglecting to tell the bees could lead to various misfortunes, including their death or departure, or a failure to make honey. Nowadays, beekeepers may be less likely to believe they risk bad luck, but they may continue to follow the tradition as “a mark of respect,” Mr. Norman said.

Stephen Fleming, a beekeeper for 25 years and the co-editor of BeeCraft, a magazine for British beekeepers, said he once performed the tradition after a friend died. He went to the friend’s bees, quietly knocked on the hives and told them the news, he said.

“It was just something I thought my friend would have enjoyed,” he added.

An illustration of telling the bees circa 1882.

After BeeCraft published an article about telling the bees in 2019, several people wrote in with their own stories of doing the task. One reader, addressing someone else’s bees, spoke in rhyme to tell them their master had died: “Honeybees, honeybees, hear what I say. Your master [name] has now passed away.”

John Chapple, the beekeeper at Buckingham Palace, declined to comment. The Daily Mail reported that he had placed black ribbons tied into bows on the hives before telling them in hushed tones that the queen had died and that they would have a new master.

Mr. Fleming said most beekeepers would most likely be aware of the tradition, but not as many would practice it.

“It’s generally thought to be a good and nice thing to do,” he said.

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/09/13/worl ... 778d3e6de3
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A Spoonful Of Wisdom From The Sacred Honey Bee

Post by kmaherali »

Hi Karim,

A few months ago, my son River and I were outside playing when he spotted a family of bees buzzing around a bed of purple hosta flowers along the front porch. Immediately mesmerized, the world around him stopped as he crouched down to get as close as he could to the insect action.

This kid — who seems to naturally be drawn to all things sacred — is one of my greatest teachers. He reminds me to slow down and notice.

Watching closely as the dutiful honey bees carefully gathered the white dust of pollen from the purple-petaled balloons in front of us, I recognized that they seem to have perfected the whole "work-life balance" thing that so many of us strive for.

Dancing from flower to flower, it was hard to say whether they were working or playing. Living fully in each moment, they seemed to be accomplishing both.

The following prayer captures the essence of the sacred bee and holds some sweetness for all of us...

A Honey Bee Prayer

Winged spirit of sweetness, I call on you.
Teach me the ways of transformation and fertilization,
The path from pollen to sweetest honey.
Teach me to taste the essence of each place I alight,
Carrying that essence with me to continue creation’s cycle.
Teach me the ways of hope,
Reminding me that what seems impossible may yet be achieved.
Flitting tears of the gods, draw me ever closer to the wisdom
hidden within beauty.
Give me flight and sunlight, passion and productivity,
Cooperation with those around me, and sharpened strength to
defend my home.
May I ever spiral out from my heart, searching for what I need,
And return there once again to turn those lessons into nourishment.
Bee spirit, I call to you.

— from A Book of Shadows

Bees played a big role in ancient spiritual traditions, from the temples of Egypt all the way to the rituals of the Maya and Inca. If we remember how to see nature with the curiosity and reverence we had as children, there are hidden truths waiting to be understood...
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