Honey Bees of the Cathedral Notre-Dame De Paris Are Still Alive

Beeopic Apiculture April 18, 2019

Honey Bees of the Cathedral Notre-Dame De Paris

Honey Bees of the Cathedral Notre-Dame De Paris

4/18/19 Update: “Our bees from the Cathedral Notre-Dame De Paris are still alive!! Confirmation from the site's officials!!”

4/16/19 Photo of honey bee hives atop Notre-Dame

4/16/19 Photo of honey bee hives atop Notre-Dame

4/16/19 Post: An Ounce of hope!

”The Photos taken by different drones show that the 3 hives are still in place... and visibly intact!

As for the occupying, the mystery remains whole. Smoke, heat, water... we will see if our brave bees are still among us as soon as we have access to the location, which may take a lot of time. We would like to thank you for all your messages of support, which affect us very much.”

The Los Angeles County Beekeepers Association sends our love, prayers and best wishes to the people of France, that great country, and their brave little honey bees.

Stay updated on the honey bees of the Cathedral Notre-Dame De Paris on the Beeopic Apiculture Facebook page.

Propolis Power-Up: How Beekeepers Can Encourage Resin Deposits For Better Hive Health

Entomology Today By Andrew Porterfield April 16, 2019

Propolis is a pliable, resinous mixture that honey bees (Apis mellifera) create by mixing a variety of plant resins, saliva, and beeswax and which they apply to interior surfaces of their hives, namely at points of comb attachment and to seal up cracks and crevices on the interior side of hive walls. Greater propolis production is connected with improved hive health, and a new study finds a few simple methods beekeepers can employ to stimulate increased propolis production.

Propolis, a mass of plant resins built by honey bees inside their hives, has drawn attention in recent years partly because of its alleged (but as yet unproven) health benefits to humans. But, perhaps more important, it also shows health benefits to bees themselves. Created from resins and other oils and fats collected from trees, propolis helps preserve the structural integrity of a bee hive and protects against

Propolis has also been connected to benefiting honey bee (Apis mellifera) immune systems, saving energy that would otherwise have been used to protect against nest-invading beetles like Aethina tumida or parasites like the Varroa destructor mite, Nosema fungus, and viruses. In the past, some beekeepers have tried to keep their hives “clean” of propolis, believing it impeded with honey-making activities. Today, though, scientists and beekeepers have begun looking at encouraging propolis production to help sustain healthy hives.

In a new study published recently in the Journal of Economic Entomology, three researches—Cynthia Hodges, master beekeeper and co-owner of Hodges Honey Apiaries in Dunwoody, Georgia; Keith Delaplane, Ph.D., entomology professor at the University of Georgia; and Berry Brosi, Ph.D., associate professor of environmental science at Emory University in Atlanta—looked at four different ways to enhance propolis growth in bee hives. The team found that three surface modifications—plastic trap material on the hive wall interior, parallel saw cuts on hive wall interior, and brush-roughened wall interiors—were all equally capable of resulting in increased propolis production, compared to a fourth method, a control, in which the hive wall interiors we left unmodified.

The researchers divided 20 colonies into five apiary sites and randomly applied one of the three texture treatments or control to each colony. Bees in the colonies foraged for propolis resins from plants common to the Appalachian Piedmont in the southeastern U.S., including conifers, oaks, pecan, red maple, yellow poplar, and urban ornamental plants. The researchers then measured extensiveness and depth of propolis deposits in the hives over time.

Their results showed that any hive interior treatment significantly increased propolis deposition compared to a non-treatment control. Sampling over time showed propolis hoarding and accumulation, as well. None of the texture treatments showed significantly different results from each other.

While all treatments resulted in more propolis deposition, the researchers point to the roughened interior of the hive walls as the best method for encouraging deposition. In fact, leaving lumber naturally rough, with no planning or sanding, would provide a simple and effective surface for boosting propolis, they write.

“We come down in favor of roughened or un-planed wood,” says Delaplane, “because, unlike the plastic trap, it will not subtract from the bee space engineered around the walls and combs. What you see in our pictures is the work of a steel brush. Naturally un-planed wood would be much rougher and, I would expect, even better at stimulating propolis deposition.”

Other researchers have shown that propolis development has a strong effect on the members of the bee hive. These other investigations have shown that interior walls painted with propolis extract resulted in colonies with lower bacterial loads and with worker bees that expressed lower levels of immune gene expression. Sustained activation of immune genes comes at an energy cost, which can result in a reduction in brood numbers and pose a threat to overall colony health. Further studies have shown that reduced immune activation (and therefore less energy spent on fighting infection) comes from reduced pathogen loads in high-propolis colonies and not from immune suppression by propolis.

“I don’t know of any beekeepers deliberately encouraging their bees to collect propolis,” says Delaplane, adding that many keepers in the past have tried to clear propolis from their hives. “But today we know that this bias is misdirected. I believe encouraging propolis deposition is one more thing beekeepers can do to partner with biology instead of ignore it.”

https://www.beeculture.com/catch-the-buzz-propolis-power-up-how-beekeepers-can-encourage-resin-deposits-for-better-hive-health/?utm_source=Catch+The+Buzz&utm_campaign=5b74875a68-Catch_The_Buzz_4_29_2015&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_0272f190ab-5b74875a68-256252085

https://academic.oup.com/jee/article-abstract/112/2/986/5199372?redirectedFrom=fulltext

Bill to Ban Beekeeping in Las Vegas Blasted in Legislature

A Henderson state senator’s bill to ban beekeeping in urban and suburban areas ran into plenty of opposition before a Nevada Senate committee Thursday, April 4, 2019, in Carson City. (Las Vegas Review-Journal file)

A Henderson state senator’s bill to ban beekeeping in urban and suburban areas ran into plenty of opposition before a Nevada Senate committee Thursday, April 4, 2019, in Carson City. (Las Vegas Review-Journal file)

Las Vegas Review-Journal By Bill Dentzer April 4, 2019

CARSON CITY — A Henderson state senator’s bill to ban beekeeping in urban and suburban areas ran into — ahem — a swarm of opposition before a Senate committee Thursday.

Senate Bill 389 would prohibit apiaries — places where bees are kept — in areas zoned for two or more residences per acre. Republican Sen. Keith Pickard, who co-sponsored the bill, presented it with an amendment limiting its application to the state’s existing Africanized bee quarantine zone in Southern Nevada, which covers all of Clark County and the southern sections of Nye and Lincoln counties.

Even so, the bill’s hearing before the Senate Natural Resources committee landed like swatting a hive with a stick, as beekeepers, conservationists and local officials stung it repeatedly with barbed criticism.

The only thing thicker than the buzzing of opposition in the committee room were the bee puns.

“I see the place is swarming,” Pickard said as he started his presentation.

The senator said the bill was in response to resident complaints of stings near a Henderson address, where the owner maintained 12 hives.

“They had essentially been driven indoors as their backyards had been overrun by the bees, presumably by the neighboring property,” Pickard said.

He acknowledged that the bees could have come from elsewhere. But, children and pets had been stung, and dogs and horses had died, he said, citing media reports as his source.

In recent years, only one person in the state has died from bee stings — a Las Vegas exterminator who was stung countless times in 2016 while removing a hive without protective clothing.

Whatever the number of apiphobes — people who fear bees — might exist in Henderson or elsewhere, they did not turn out Thursday to support Pickard’s bill, leaving him its lone advocate. Even with the amendment restricting the bill’s applicable area to Southern Nevada, beekeepers and others from Northern Nevada, speaking in Carson City, joined opponents testifying by video link in Las Vegas to denounce it.

They included David Sharpless, whose well-hived Henderson home was the original source of complaints that prompted the bill.

Amid discussion of the finer points and benefits of beekeeping and hive-tending, opponents said the threat of Africanized bees — known as “killer” bees — spreading to more areas was not the fault of local apiaries.

“If my family can use our yard without our bees bothering us, then so can my neighbors,” Sharpless said, adding it was “ridiculous to think that banning backyard hives is a solution to this problem in any way.”

The city of Henderson turned out to oppose the bill, noting a more comprehensive local ordinance it passed in August that regulates apiaries without banning them outright. Under the city’s rules, Sharpless is permitted just two hives on his property, and he has complied.

Pickard’s bill “is too restrictive and conflicts with the city’s goal of allowing apiaries in to a variety of neighborhood types,” Henderson planning manager Eddie Dichter told the committee. Other localities, including the cities of Las Vegas and Reno, agreed.

As the buzz died down, Pickard remained the bill’s unstung hero, saying regulation of apiaries was properly a state — not local — matter, and that the Henderson apiary in question was still out of compliance.

“This is response to a real problem where kids were being stung in their own yards,” he said.

https://www.reviewjournal.com/news/politics-and-government/2019-legislature/bill-to-ban-beekeeping-in-las-vegas-valley-blasted-in-legislature-1633798/?fbclid=IwAR11qFJynK4ESkZrSrN_TKS_U9FAr6OWopKqDWnIYFwZnWWRKSBeg8LQAlw

Join Us THIS WEEKEND! LACBA Honey Tasting at the LA Zoo Spring Fling

WE NEED VOLUNTEERS!

Saturday, April 13th & Sunday, April 14th

Additional Dates April 19, 20, 21, 27, & 28
 

The Los Angeles County Beekeepers Association will be hosting a ‘Honey Tasting’ (like a ‘Wine Tasting’) during the Los Angeles Zoo 2019 Spring Fling.

For six weekends beginning Saturday, March 23 through Sunday, April 28, 2019 (10AM-4PM). LACBA members will be on hand offering samples of a variety of local honeys, selling local honey, and providing education about honey bees and answering questions.

LACBA Member Schedule & Sign Up

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Beekeeping Class 101: Sunday, April 14, 2019

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Sunday, April 14th

REGISTRATION REQUIRED
 Register by Thursday April 11th to receive class location and details needed to attend class.

 PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT REQUIRED

This class will take place in an apiary, therefore, protective equipment will be required.  If you do not have proper protective equipment you will NOT be able to participate in class and refunds will NOT be issued (all money collected for classes were a donation).

Class Topic: 

  • Get comfortable with handling your bees

  • Hive inspection techniques – what to look for on you first hive inspection after installing your package of bees or nuc of bees.

  • Be prepared for a quiz!  Do you remember what was covered in class last month?

https://www.losangelescountybeekeepers.com/beekeeping-class-101

Bill Rathfelder - Telling the Bees

Telling the Bees
of the Passing of
Bill Rathfelder

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Long-time member and treasurer of the Los Angeles County Beekeepers Association, our fellow beekeeper and dear friend, Bill Rathfelder, passed away on Tuesday, March 26, 2019.

Services

Funeral Service:

Date: Friday, April 12, 2019 Time: 11:00 am

Mt. Olive Lutheran Church
 3561 Foothill Blvd.
 La Crescenta, CA 91214
(Reception will follow the funderal service in the fellowship hall.)
Website: https://www.molc.org/ 

Gravesite Interment (next-day):

Date: Saturday, April 13, 2019 Time: 10:00 am

Glen Haven Memorial Park
13017 Lopez Canyon Rd.
Sylmar, CA 91342
Map: https://www.google.com/search?q=13107+Lopez+Canyon+Road%2C+Sylmar&rlz=1C1CHFX_enUS523US523&oq=13107+Lopez+Canyon+Road%2C+Sylmar&aqs=chrome..69i57.9288j0j7&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

Bill ( on the left) enjoyed A magical day in the almond orchards with the bees and fellow beekeepers.

Bill ( on the left) enjoyed A magical day in the almond orchards with the bees and fellow beekeepers.

Bill’s fascination for bees went way back to childhood. He became an avid beekeeper and kept bees for over fifty years. Bill passed his interest in bees onto his sons when they were kids. He loved telling the story of how he built them a live honey bee observation hive and they kept it in their room.

Bill enjoyed a long career at Lockheed as an aeronautical engineer and retired after fifty years of service. He continued his interest in aerospace, traveled to many air shows, and kept us informed (though his many emails) as to what was happening the the starry starry sky and the universe beyond.

Bill became a member of the Los Angeles County Beekeepers Association in  1999. He was actively involved in our club events, volunteered at the LA County Fair Bee Booth for many years, and held the position of Treasure for over ten years - until his passing.

In 2000, the LA County Fair presented Bill Rathfelder with the Award for Best Hobbyist Beekeeper.

In 2012, Bill received the Los Angeles County Beekeepers Association’s Golden Hive Tool Award. The Golden Hive Tool Award is our President’s choice of someone who has shown great dedication to the club and thereby improved people’s experience of beekeeping. 

We love you Bill, and we will miss you - especially in the springtime, when the almonds bloom and the bees are a’buzzin!

A Prayer in Spring
By Robert Frost

Oh, give us pleasure in the flowers to-day; 
And give us not to think so far away 
As the uncertain harvest; keep us here 
All simply in the springing of the year. 

Oh, give us pleasure in the orchard white,
Like nothing else by day, like ghosts by night; 
And make us happy in the happy bees, 
The swarm dilating round the perfect trees. 

And make us happy in the darting bird 
That suddenly above the bees is heard,
The meteor that thrusts in with needle bill, 
And off a blossom in mid air stands still. 

For this is love and nothing else is love, 
The which it is reserved for God above 
To sanctify to what far ends He will,
But which it only needs that we fulfil. 

Man Dies After Being 'Covered in Bees' While Removing Hive From Back Yard

ABC News By Julia Jacoba April 9, 2019

The man was covered in bees by the time deputies arrived.

Getty images

Getty images

An Arizona man has died after he attempted to remove a beehive from his backyard on his own, authorities said.

The Yuma County Sheriff's Office was called to the man's home on Sunday evening after he had been stung multiple times, according to a press release. The man, identified as 51-year-old Epigmenio Gonzalez, was "covered with bees" in his front yard when deputies arrived, authorities said.

MORE: What to do in a bee attack: 5 things you need to know (July 20, 2018).

First responders then sprayed Gonzalez with water to allow medics to take him to the hospital. He later died at the Yuma Regional Medical Center, according to the sheriff's office. It is unclear how many times he was stung.

Deputies later learned that Gonzalez had tried to remove the hive from a couch behind his home before the agitated bees attacked.

A female at the home also was stung multiple times and was hospitalized, authorities said. Several deputies and other first responders were stung as well but did not require medical attention.

Additional details were not immediately available.

Yuma County Sheriff’s Office

Yuma County Sheriff’s Office

The Pollinators Screens at the Newport Beach Film Festival

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The Pollinators is a cinematic journey around the United States following migratory beekeepers and their truckloads of honey bees as they pollinate the flowers that become the fruits, nuts and vegetables we all eat. The many challenges the beekeepers and their bees face en route reveal flaws to our simplified chemically dependent agriculture system. We talk to farmers, scientists, chefs and academics along the way to give a broad perspective about the threats to honey bees, what it means to our food security and how we can improve it.

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https://www.thepollinators.net/

[Filmmaker, Peter Nelson, is a beekeeper based in the Hudson Valley of New York and has also been a backyard beekeeper for 30 years. In addition to his new feature length documentary, The Pollinators, about bees and their importance to our food and agriculture system, he also produced, directed, photographed, and edited the beautiful short film Dance of the Honey Bee, which was featured on Bill Moyers Presents, and can be viewed here.]

Bee Removal to be Illegal in Texas

Catch The Buzz By Zachary Bauer April 4, 2019

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Bee removal is a common practice for many bee owners. Well, it’s about to become illegal in Texas if an Irving lawmaker has her way.

When a local bee keeper gets a call concerning a swarm or hive in a nearby residence or tree, they load up and ride to the rescue. They arrive and set up their equipment and carefully bring the bees home to a new location where they can grow and thrive.

However, new legislation being filed in Texas would prevent most bee keepers from performing this valuable service unless they first jump through a bunch of bureaucratic hoops and red tape. What was once a sometimes cheap or free service from local bee keepers looking to expand their hives or preserve local bee populations for the benefit of a community, will turn into an expensive fee for whomever calls needing a bee removal.

Rep. Theresa “Terry” Meza (D.) of Irving, Texas has authored House Bill 4212 that would make the process of bee removal illegal. Unless of course the person removing the bees has undergone 160 hours of both class room and field training in beekeeping and removals. That amounts to over 3 college semester classes worth of training! A normal college class of 3 semester credit hours is around 45-48 contact hours. This nonsense will make almost all bee keeping removal services illegal overnight! If this bill passes, nobody will be able to legally remove and relocate bees after January 1, 2020 until after they go through 160 hours of training and licensing.

There is currently no agency, organization or authority that is set up to train such licensed bee removers in Texas. The legislation would place licensing and training specifics under the authority of the Texas Department of Agriculture.

Additionally, the “licensed” bee remover must obtain $600,000 in liability insurance. If that wasn’t enough, the bee remover must also have $300,000 in workman’s comp before being able to legally remove bees. Oh and you have to pay a yearly licensing fee and whatever fees are associated with your 160 hours of classroom and field training.

I probably don’t have to remind you just how important bee keepers are to our communities. Not only are they providing and harvesting a natural sugar source in the form of honey, but by growing these bees, they are heavily contributing to the pollination of plants, gardens and crops by local growers and farmers. With the amount of pesticides being used in communities today, having these bee champions working and operating freely is very important.

Rep. Meza would tie the hands of those who would perform an amazing community service and ensure the health and growth of local bee populations in Texas. The result of the passage of the Meza bill is obvious. Landowners and homeowners will grab a can of RAID and kill the bees rather than pay the local bee keeper’s high fees as a result of training, licensing and insurance payments that allow them to do their job legally.

Read The Bill Here: https://capitol.texas.gov/tlodocs/86R/billtext/pdf/HB04212I.pdf

https://www.beeculture.com/catch-the-buzz-bee-removal-to-be-illegal-in-texas/?utm_source=Catch+The+Buzz&utm_campaign=965478b193-Catch_The_Buzz_4_29_2015&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_0272f190ab-965478b193-256252085

Yes, I'll Have Som Mustard, Please!

Bug Squad By Kathy Keatley Garvey April 3, 2019

Yes, I'll have some mustard, please.

Yes, both the pollen and the nectar, thank you.

We watched a honey bee buzz into our little mustard patch,  her proboscis (tongue) extended, and pollen weighting her down. If she were at the airport, someone would have volunteered to carry her bags. 

But there she was, determined to bring back both pollen and nectar to her colony. It's nature's equivalent of gold. It's spring and time for the colony build-up.

In peak season, the queen bee lays 1500 to 2000 eggs a day. Everyone has a job to do, and if you're a bee scientist or a beekeeper, you'll see them all:  nurse maids, nannies, royal attendants, builders, architects, foragers, dancers, honey tenders, pollen packers, propolis or "glue" specialists, air conditioning and heating technicians, guards, and undertakers.

What's thrilling this time of year, though, are the worker bees bringing home the mustard.

Want to learn more about bees? Be sure to stop by Briggs Hall, off Kleiber Hall Drive, on Saturday, April 13 during the campuswide 105th annual UC Davis Picnic Day.  You'll see a bee observation hive, as well as smokers, hive tools and veils, all part of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology displays. You can talk to the bee scientists. And you can sample many different varietals of honey.

Briggs Hall also will feature cockroach races, maggot art, t-shirt sales, face-painting, aquatic insects,  forensic entomology,  Integrated Pest Management Program display, fly-tying and much more. It's free and family friendly.

And over at the Bohart Museum of Entomology, located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building, more entomological excitements await. It's the home of nearly eight million insect specimens, plus a gift shop and a live "petting zoo" of Madagascar hissing cockroaches, stick insects (walking sticks), tarantulas and praying mantids.  Stay tuned!

A pollen-laden honey bee heads for more pollen and nectar on mustard. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

A pollen-laden honey bee heads for more pollen and nectar on mustard. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Pollen-packing honey bee is a sight to see amid the mustard blossoms. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Pollen-packing honey bee is a sight to see amid the mustard blossoms. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Pollen or nectar? Both please, says the honey bee as she forages on mustard. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Pollen or nectar? Both please, says the honey bee as she forages on mustard. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Swarming Bees Kill Dog, Attack Two Women in Santa Clarita

ABC 7 Eyewitness News By John Gregory March 1, 2019

SANTA CLARITA, Calif. (KABC) -- A dog was killed and two women and another dog were stung multiple times in an attack by a hive of killer bees in Santa Clarita. 

Patricia Wightman still has the welts from the attack on her face, her neck and shoulders. 

The bees took over a hive in a pepper tree in Wightman's yard. 

On Sunday, they first went after her neighbor, Jill Suleski, and her two dogs. 

Patricia jumped in to try to help them and was also attacked. 

Both dogs were stung dozens of times. 

Nicki was the lucky one, surviving the attack. 

But the venom from the stings proved to be too much for her smaller dog. Gabriel, who weighed about 45 pounds, passed away a few days after the attack. 

"They just kept coming and coming and coming. It was terrible," Suleski said. 

Jill feels horrible about the loss, but she also knows she is lucky to be OK. She is allergic to bees. 

Patricia jumped in to protect her, and despite being swarmed she was somehow able to reach firefighters for help. They first covered her with foam to try to smother the bees and then put her in the fire truck. 

"The fire department got a lot of them off my face, and they got 35 bees off my hair," she said. "And at the hospital they found one bee in my hair and they got 40 stingers out of my scalp." 

A beekeeper removed the hive and sealed the opening in the tree. 

After a visit to the emergency room both women are expected to be OK. But they will never forget Gabriel. 

They will also never forget the sound of a swarm of Africanized honey bees on the attack.

https://abc7.com/pets-animals/swarming-bees-kill-dog-attack-2-women-in-santa-clarita/5163608/

NOW LIVE! The 2018-2019 Colony Loss and Management Survey

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Good morning America!

It’s beautiful outside! The birds are chirping and the bees are flying! You may even notice a few flowers outside too!

Here in the South, our many azaleas are in full bloom! This means Spring is upon us! 

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The sun rising over the campus of Auburn University

And of course, Spring means one thing: it’s time to take the Bee Informed Partnership’s annual Colony Loss and Management Survey!

It’s easy! One click and you are in, ready to take the survey and to serve our nation’s beekeeping industry:

TAKE THE SURVEY TODAY!

The information that you provide will be invaluable to our understanding of honey bee health around the country.

As background, the BIP’s National Loss Survey was launched for the first time in 2006, and thanks to the many thousands of beekeepers who have participated since then, we have been able to document and better understand long-term honey bee colony loss trends. Check out the interactive state loss map as evidence!

In 2010, BIP’s National Management Survey was added to help us understand how management practices are potentially linked to colony survivorship. Thanks to your answers, we have been able to develop a dynamic management data tool.

Feel free to play around with the interface. Want to know how colony losses compared between beekeepers that DID or DID NOT use a varroa treatment? Or what about the average age of comb in American hives? It’s all in there!

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The Bee Informed Partnership’s dynamic management, data explorer tool

If you would like to prepare yourself for our questions, or want to take some notes while you’re looking at your colonies, download the survey or have a look at the 2018 – 2019 National Colony Loss and Management Survey Preview.

This preview should serve as an aid to the questions that are asked on the survey.  Please, do not mail this preview version back to us.

When you are ready: TAKE THE SURVEY NOW!

Many thanks to all previous participants, and to all you new-Bees for taking some time out of your busy schedule to fill out this year’s survey.

Your contribution is supporting research efforts at a national scale that are aimed to promote the health of our honey bees!

https://beeinformed.org/

LACBA Meeting: Monday, April 1, 2019

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Our next meeting will be held on Monday, April 1, 2019

General Meeting: 7:00pm 
NO COMMITTEE MEETING THIS MONTH.

Location: Mount Olive Lutheran Church (Shilling Hall)
                 3561 Foothill Boulevard
                 La Crescenta, CA 91214
       ***Please bring something for the raffle!***

Meetings of the Los Angeles County Beekeepers Association (LACBA) are open to the public. Everyone is welcome. Please see the draft agenda below and send any requests to add or revise agenda items to: president@losangelescountybeekepers.com prior to the meeting.

Agenda:

1. Welcome

2. Flag Salute

3. Introduce the Board:

  • Jon Reese - President

  • Kevin Heydman – Vice President

  • Merrill Kruger - Secretary

  • El Rey Ensch – Member at Large

4. Select Raffle ticket seller, index cards for questions

5. New Members and/or Guests

6. Thank Doug Noland for the treat du jour

Topic Speaker

7 minutes. A selected beekeeper to speak on how they got into beekeeping and their first two years of beekeeping. Specifically, on the mistakes made, the trials, tribulations, problems.

Main Topic Package Installation

Several methods and several beekeepers take on Installing packages. And the care of them. Feeding, mite treatment, queen cork removal, release, and how long to leave alone.

7. Board Reports

  • Meeting Minutes: Mary Ann

  • Secretary Report: Merrill

  • Treasurer’s Report: Jon

8. Committee Reports:

  • Membership Report:. Cheryl

  • Website: Eva

  • Education: Mary

  • Beekeeping 101: Keith

9. Upcoming Events

  • Spring fling at LA Zoo. 6 weekends late March to Early May. We need list of people who would like to volunteer for the booth. Educate. Sell honey and honey tasting with honey sticks.. Select several people to speak at Spring fling. Sunday @ 2pm

  • Eaton Canyon Nature Center is having a one day event. June 2 nd . Educate. Observation hive sell honey. Partner with BASC. Who will bring an observation hive?

  • 2019 Honey Harvest Festival in Fillmore, June 22-23rd - El Rey.

10. What do your packages look like 12 months in?.

11. What do you see, what are you doing this time of year?

12. Whats blooming?

13. Index cards Q & A

14. Next Month!

15. Raffle!

Fish and Bees "Talk" with Help from Robot Translators

The Scientist By Jef Akst March 20, 2019

Robots integrated into groups of zebrafish and of one-day-old honey bees allow the two species to influence each other’s behavior.

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A robot interacting with young honey bees in Graz, Austria, exchanged information with a robot swimming with zebrafish in Lausanne, Switzerland, and the robots’ communication influenced the behavior of each animal group, according to a study published in Science Robotics today (March 20).

“It’s the first time that people are using this kind of technology to have two different species communicate with each other,” says Simon Garnier, a complex systems biologist at New Jersey Institute of Technology who did not participate in the study. “It’s a proof of concept that you can have robots mediate interactions between distant groups.” He adds, however, that the specific applications of such a setup remain to be seen.

As robotics technology has advanced, biologists have sought to harness it, building robots that look and behave like animals. This has allowed researchers to control one side of social interactions in studies of animal behavior. Robots that successfully integrate into animal populations also provide scientists with a means to influence the groups’ behavior.

See “Send in the Bots

“The next step, we were thinking . . . [is] adding features to the group that the animals cannot do because they don’t have the capabilities to do so,” José Halloy, a physicist at Paris Diderot University who has been working on developing robots to interact intelligently with animals for more than a decade, writes in an email. “The simple and striking thing is that robots can use telecommunication or the Internet and animals cannot do that.” 

In the new work, Halloy teamed up with collaborators at Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne (EPFL), the University of Graz in Austria, and elsewhere to have two different animal-robot societies interact via modern communications technology. The researchers worked with two very different species that wouldn’t normally interact in nature—honey bees and zebrafish—and they housed the experimental animals more than 1,000 kilometers apart. “What we did is a bit extreme,” admits coauthor and EPFL engineer Frank Bonnet

In 30-minute trials, the teams presented the animals with a collective choice. In the case of bees, that choice was which of two heat-emitting robots they would gather around, while the zebrafish, which shared their donut-shaped tank with a fish-like robot, would decide which direction to swim. Both the robots in the bee colony and the fish robot interacted with the real animals as the experiments took place. The bee robots have infrared sensors that allow them to estimate density of nearby bees, and as more bees clustered, the robots produced more heat, enticing more bees to gather around. The fish robot detects the location of the fish and itself with a camera filming the aquarium, and responds to changes in the real fish’s direction by following the majority, which in turn influences the group’s collective decision about which way to swim.

The researchers then linked the two robots via an internet connection. As the bees gravitated toward one robot or the other, that information could be transferred to the fish robot, which interpreted the news as more fish choosing a swimming direction—clockwise or counterclockwise. Conversely, information on the swimming direction of the fish in the group could be transmitted from the fish robot to the bee robots, which interpreted the signal as more bees choosing a particular bot. “When we make the connection between the two setups, the robots act like translators,” says Bonnet.

Left to their own devices, zebrafish, while they generally swim as a group, don’t stay swimming in one direction; they frequently reverse course. But when the fish robot was receiving information from the bee robots, the fish would reach a consensus for several minutes or longer. That’s because the young honey bees, when the robots in their colony were not receiving information from the fish robot, would after about 15 minutes settle with one of the two robots. 

Conversely, the fish’s indecisive swimming patterns influenced the behavior of the honey bees. If the fish robot shared information with the bee colony, the bees continued to move back and forth between the two heaters for the entire 30-minute trial. If the communication was two way, the bees settled around one of the two bots in the enclosure, but it took about five minutes longer. This then led the fish to settle on a swimming direction. 

A single 30-minute run of the experiment with two-way communication between the bees and fish, sped up 10x.

“It’s technically very impressive; I buy the argument that there has been some form of communication,” says Garnier. But he wonders how the technology will be used. “I’m not sure where it fits in terms of the science.”

Guy Theraulaz, who studies collective behavior at the Research Center on Animal Cognition at CNRS in Toulouse, France, agrees. “From a biological point of view, we don’t learn anything,” he notes, and from an engineering point of view, the key aspect of the experiment is the integration of the robots into animal societies, which had already been done. “They are selling something which is a little bit trivial,” he says.

The researchers argue that the proof-of-concept study points to new approaches for interrogating natural species interactions, just as robots have already been used to study within-species social behavior.  “It allows us to do experiments with animals to build mathematical models of behaviors,” says Halloy. 

Nicole Abaid, an engineer at Virginia Tech who was not involved in the work, could also see this type of work providing insight into how best to develop multi-agent robotics systems, such as robotic swarm, in which many small robots are deployed in unison for applications such as precision agriculture or search and rescue. While most so-called distributed systems use many of one type of robot, engineers are starting to experiment with devices of different types—for example, a quadcopter and a ground vehicle, says Abaid. “The idea that you could have an interspecies interaction in the application of robotics is super interesting.”

F. Bonnet et al., “Robots mediating interactions between animals for interspecies collective behaviors, Sci Robot, 4:eaau7897, 2019.

https://www.the-scientist.com/news-opinion/fish-and-bees-talk-with-help-from-robot-translators-65621

Honeybees All Have Different Jobs

National Geographic By Richie Hertzberg March 22, 2019

How honeybees get their jobs—explained

With brains the size of sesame seeds, honeybees have to work together in different
capacities to maintain a healthy nest.

EVERY HONEYBEE HAS a job to do. Some are nurses who take care of the brood; some are janitors who clean the hive; others are foragers who gather nectar to make honey. Collectively, honeybees are able to achieve an incredible level of sophistication, especially considering their brains are only the size of sesame seeds. But how are these jobs divvied up, and where do bees learn the skills to execute them?

Unlike in Jerry Seinfeld’s “Bee Movie,” real honeybees don’t go to college and get a job assignment from an aptitude officer upon graduation. Instead, they rely on a mixture of genetics, hormones, and situational necessity to direct them. Honeybees are born into an occupation, and then their duties continually shift in response to changing conditions in the hive.

“The jargon we use is that it’s ‘decentralized.’ There’s no bee in the center organizing this,” says Thomas Seeley, author of the book Honeybee Democracy. “Each bee has its own little set of rules, and the labor is sorted out by the bees following their rules.”

Born this way

A bee’s job is determined by its sex. Male bees, or drones, don’t do any work. They make up roughly ten percent of the colony’s population, and they spend their whole lives eating honey and waiting for the opportunity to mate. When the time comes for the queen to make her nuptial flight, all the drones in other colonies will compete for the honor of insemination. They fly after the queen and attempt to mate with her in mid-air. If they mate successfully, they fall to the ground in a victorious death. The queen will mate with up to twenty drones and will store their spermatozoa in her spermatheca organ for the rest of her life. That’s where male duties end.

Female bees, known as worker bees, make up the vast majority of a hive’s population, and they do all the work to keep it functioning. Females are responsible for the construction, maintenance, and proliferation of the nest and the colony that calls it home.

A bee’s sex is determined by the queen, who lays eggs at a rate of 1,500 per day for two to five years. She has the unique ability to designate which eggs will develop into female workers and which will become male drones.

If the queen approaches a smaller worker bee cell to lay a female egg, she will fertilize the egg on its way out by releasing spermatozoa from her nuptial flight. She has enough spermatozoa stored in her abdomen to last the duration of her life.

If the queen approaches a larger drone cell to lay a male egg, on the other hand, she will not release any spermatozoa as the egg leaves her ovaries. This unfertilized egg will develop into a drone.

Domestic duties

It takes 21 days for the worker bee to grow out of her larval state and leave the cell. When she emerges on day 21 as an adult bee, she will immediately start cleaning the cell from which she hatched. Her first three days will be spent cleaning cells to prepare them for the queen’s next round of eggs.

After three days, her hormones kick in to initiate the next phase of work: nursing the young. Seeley explains that hormones are released to activate different parts of the bee’s genes assigned to different tasks. “It’s similar to when humans get sick,” he says. “Sick genes that are involved in inflammation and fever get turned on. Likewise with bees and their jobs.”

A worker bee will spend about a week nursing the brood, feeding larvae with royal jelly, a nutritious secretion that contains proteins, sugars, fats, and vitamins. The exact number of days she spends on this task depends on where the hive needs the most attention. Bees are very sensitive organisms whose hormones are closely tied in with the colony’s needs. “A colony of honeybees is, then, far more than an aggregation of individuals,” writes Seeley in Honeybee Democracy. “It is a composite being that functions as an integrated whole.” The colony is a well-oiled superorganism, similar to ant and termite colonies.

The most dangerous job

When the bee is finished nursing, she will enter the third phase, as a sort of utility worker, moving farther away from the nest’s center. Here she will build cells and store food in the edge of the nest for about a week.

A bee’s hormones will shift into the final phase of work at around her 41st day: foraging. This work is the most dangerous and arguably the most important. It’s only done by older bees who are closer to death. As Steve Heydon, an entomologist at the University of California, Davis, puts it, “You wouldn’t want the youngest bees doing the most dangerous job.” If too many young bees die, then the hive wouldn’t be able to sustain itself.

As the worker bee approaches her fourth week of nonstop work, she will sense her end of days and remove herself from the hive, so as not to become a burden. If she dies in the hive, her fellow bees would have to remove her corpse.

Thus is the life of a female bee during the active seasons of spring and summer, compulsively working from the day she’s born until the day she dies. It’s a thankless life of nonstop work, but honeybees, as a result, are some of the most successful collaborators we’ve found in nature.

[Editor's Note: This article originally misstated what bees use to make honey. They use nectar.]

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/2019/03/honey-bee-job-queen-hive-animals/?fbclid=IwAR22oQODHIUDVcWt3qY2GoZxLmL9sDZWCMPWGl9Is6dR5H3bkcSFlMdRBfE

Watch Related - Amazing Time-Lapse: Bees Hatch Before Your Eyes

Honey Bee Caste Systems: Part 1 - Honey Bee Genetics

Bee Informed Partnership By Garrett Slater March 19, 2019

I have always been fascinated with queens and workers. In fact, I spent my master’s degree studying the mechanisms that produce queens and workers. I won’t bore you with my master’s thesis, but I did want to write about the fascinating differences between queens and workers. This topic includes a lot of information, so I decided to split this topic into 3 blog installment: 

  • The Genetic Book of Life-The basics to honey bee genetics

  • How genetics and the environment shape honey bee workers and queens

  • The differences between queens and workers 

Honey bees are unique living organisms. Some fascinating traits honey bees possess include: 1) distinct reproductive caste system, i.e. fertile queens that lay the colony’s eggs and sterile workers who forego their own reproduction but help raise their brothers and sisters instead, 2) they have a behavioral division of labor within the worker caste, and 3) they have distinct sexual dimorphism. As most beekeepers know, honey bees include many more interesting characteristics, but I included the three that I am most interested in! While honey bees are quite unique compared to any other animal or living form, the underlying material by which these traits are passed on to future generations is shared with all organic living organisms: Deoxyribonucleic Acid or DNA. DNA carries the genetic material necessary to produce the distinct and fundamental characteristics of honey bees. While all living organisms have DNA, honey bee genetics is unique.

Honey bees have a system of sex determination (male drones versus female queens or workers) known as haplodiploidy. This differs from human sex determination in several ways. With humans, both males and females carry two copies of every chromosome (they are both diploid), one inherited from the father, and one from the mother. Human males result because they have a specific sex chromosome (Y chromosome) that females lack. With honey bees, queen bees carry sperm inside a specialized compartment within her body that she obtained from earlier mating events, and she determines whether or not to fertilize each egg as it is being laid. Males develop from unfertilized eggs, and therefore only carry a single set of chromosomes (Haploid) and females develop from fertilized eggs and possess two copies of each chromosome (Diploid), Females receive DNA from both parents, while males receive DNA from just the mother. Therefore, this is referred to as a Haplodiploid genetic system.

Caste System 1 .jpg

Figure 1: Depicted above is the genetics of honey bee workers and queens. Female workers and queens result from fertilization, which is the act of fusing female queen eggs with male drone sperm. This combination results in a diploid egg and contains chromosomes from both the male drone and the female queen. Unique to honey bees, diploid females can develop into either a queen or worker. This depends upon the nutrition they receive during development.

Caste system 2.jpg

Figure 2: The picture above is the genetics of a laying worker. A laying worker has underdeveloped reproductive traits, so they cannot mate with drones. Because of this, they cannot fertilize eggs and produce female workers or queens. The laying workers can, however, produce unfertilized haploid males. This is a last-ditch effort for the colony to pass along its genetic material to future generations because the colony will not survive.

Caste system 3.jpg

Figure 3: The picture above shows a queen laying drone eggs. Queens can either lay fertilized or unfertilized eggs. This typically depends upon cell size as queens lay unfertilized drone eggs into drone cells. In some situations, queens run out of viable sperm for many different reasons. Queens can only produce unfertilized drone eggs, which can spell doom for a once prosperous colony.  

Figures 1-3 summarize the genetic differences between diploid females and haploid males. In order for females to develop, they need a different genetic recipe from both the mother and father. Diploid males are a great example of how important these different genetic recipes are in sex determination. In certain cases, diploid males can result if they receive identical chromosomes from both the father and mother. This can result from very inbred populations, and results in infertile males.

Queens are the only individuals in the colony that can produce both diploid female workers or queens and also produce haploid males. I will touch on why workers cannot produce diploid females in a later blog, but I describe in some detail in Figures 2-4. Though, workers can lay drones because workers are able to lay unfertilized eggs. Essentially, workers cannot mate or store sperm, so they produce just haploid males.

Honey Bee genetics is fascinating. If you enjoyed reading this blog as much as I enjoyed writing it, keep an eye out for the next installment on how genetics and the environment shape honey bee workers and queen. 

Cheers!
Garett Slater
Midwest Tech-Transfer Team
University of Minnesota
Bee Informed Partnership

https://beeinformed.org/2019/03/19/honey-bee-caste-systems-part-1-honey-bee-genetics/

Rearing Honey Bees Responsively Requires Education and Careful Management to Help Stop the Spread of Disease

Bee Culture - Catch the Buzz By Matt Robinson March 20, 2019

bc.jpg

Small-scale beekeeping has bloomed in recent years as amateur apiarists have taken to cultivating honey bee colonies of their own to help boost the ranks of pollinators under pressure around the globe.

But more is sometimes not better, and experts like Paul van Westendorp, a provincial apiculturist with B.C.’s Animal Health Centre, are warning that backyard honey bees that aren’t carefully managed can contribute to the spread of disease, undermining the well-intentioned efforts of those who keep them.

“Ironically, while beekeepers can be a highly independent lot and very individualistic … honey bees are completely communal in everything they do. So the misery that is experienced by one colony is often shared with other colonies, and the misery is often in the form of disease,” van Westendorp said.

B.C.’s honey bee colony count, at roughly 52,000 in 2018, is the highest its been since at least 2010, according to the results of the province’s annual beekeeping survey, and there are more colonies across the country than ever before, said van Westendorp. Urban interest in beekeeping and corresponding local bylaw amendments have helped foster the spread of honey bee colonies into cities and towns.

But what some who keep bees may not be aware is that honey bees were introduced to this continent and are best thought of as a form of livestock, distinct from the hundreds of species of domestic pollinators in Canada, like bumblebees and orchard mason bees, van Westendorp said.

He warned people against keeping bees without first learning some basics on seasonal management, or what to do in spring, summer, fall and winter. Also key is recognizing bee behaviour and the health of the brood, and understanding how bees reproduce, he said.

“By having an insight in that, that will enable the beekeeper to also detect possible diseases that may be present and … when you do find a disease, what kind of practices or techniques can you use to control these diseases.”

Stan Reist, the Canadian Honey Council rep for the B.C. Honey Producers’ Association, said he believed some people may be avoiding crucial procedures that can help colonies around the province stay healthy.

We’ve got people out there who do not believe in treatments. Well, they’re not doing themselves any favour and they’re not doing us any favour,” he said. “If you had a dog and it had mange, would you treat it? Sure you would. If your kid came home from school and had head lice, would you treat it? Yeah, sure you would. So if your bees have got mites, why wouldn’t you treat them?”

Reist said he believed those who neglect treatment are typically beekeepers with a few hives who “haven’t been in it for long enough to understand the dynamics. … They had the attitude that they want to save the bees, and they’re actually doing more harm than they are good.”

The provincial government offers introductory beekeeping classes that regularly enroll to capacity. It also offers a free webinar version open to anyone, and a master course for beekeeping veterans.

There are other beekeeping courses offered around the Lower Mainland as well, including those at the Honeybee Centre, which are geared toward hobbyists, and a program at Kwantlen Polytechnic University, aimed at commercial keepers. Carolyn Essaunce teaches at both.

Essaunce said sometimes there is “contention between commercial beekeepers and hobby beekeepers” and if a hobby beekeeper’s hives get sick they blame the commercial beekeepers, and vice versa. She thought it was important to bridge the two industries because all of them have the same goals and raise bees that fly around.

“I think there’s a bit of misconception about what commercial beekeeping is. I think there’s an idea out there, not that everybody has it, in the hobby beekeeping industry that it’s sort of this mass production industrial farming. But I teach basic beekeeping for hobbyists and I also teach commercial. And we actually teach the exact same management methods,” she said.

In the broader picture, the societal pressure that humans place on the environment has been problematic for bees, van Westendorp said. Industrial monoculture agriculture, the widespread use of farm chemicals and the loss of agricultural land to development are just a few examples of a large societal footprint that has contributed to a widespread “depressing effect” on the natural world, he said. Honey bees — even though colonies now appear in Canada in greater number than before — have suffered from that and native pollinators are suffering even more, he said.

“We may have managed to maintain a quantitative presence or a relative abundance of pollinators. … Where the biggest fear is, is that we have a qualitative decline. And that is a decline in species diversity.”

Anyone looking for a low maintenance way to help pollinators could consider setting out mason bee condos or planting “bee forage plants,” van Westendorp said. That includes flowers like lupines, lavender, bigroot geraniums, hyssops and a host of other plants that bees like to visit.

Rearing Honey Bees Responsibly

You may also want to check this out: Keeping Backyard Bees - Home Sweet Home for Mason Bees

Honey Bee Colonies More Successful By Foraging on Non-Crop Fields

USDA-ARS By Kim Kaplan March 20, 2019

An adult worker bee gathering pollen and nectar from a helianthus flower. Credit: USDA-ARS

An adult worker bee gathering pollen and nectar from a helianthus flower. Credit: USDA-ARS

Honey bee colonies foraging on land with a strong cover of clover species and alfalfa do more than three times as well than if they are put next to crop fields of sunflowers or canola, according to a study just published in Scientific Reportsby an Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientist and his colleagues.

Managed honey bee colonies placed from May until October next to land in the U.S. Department of Agriculture Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) in North Dakota were more robust with better colony health including higher numbers of bees and increased ability to turn nectar and pollen into vitellogenin—a compound that plays a number of roles including serving as the base for producing royal jelly, which bees use to nurture larvae and turn larvae into queens.

Vitellogenin also is a critical food storage reservoir for honey bee colonies, and a colony’s success in the spring depends on total vitellogenin reserves carried by specialized bees over the winter. Vitellogenin prolongs the lifespans of queens and forager bees as well as strongly influencing key behaviors that increase colony survival such as determining how old bees are before they begin foraging and whether they tend to gather nectar or pollen.

After spending six months foraging on CRP land and then overwintering, more than 78 percent of the colonies were graded A, the highest level commanding the highest price for pollination services in January, meaning a colony has six or more frames well filled with bees, capped cells and bee brood (larvae).

With colonies kept near intensely cultivated fields and then overwintered under the same circumstances to the CRP apiaries, only 20 percent could be rated Grade A and 55 percent were less than 2 frames or dead.

Land in the USDA Conservation Reserve Program provides valuable forage for honey bees. Credit: USDA-ARS

Land in the USDA Conservation Reserve Program provides valuable forage for honey bees. Credit: USDA-ARS

“With California almond growers having paid an average of $190 per Grade A colony in the 2018 almond pollination season, the need for beekeepers to have access to land that has diverse and substantial nectar and pollen sources is obvious,” explained ARS research microbiologist Kirk E. Anderson. Anderson is with ARS’ Carl Hayden Bee Research Center in Tucson, Arizona.

Anderson and his team, including ARS molecular biologist Vincent Ricigliano, also profiled several molecular colony level biomarkers, looking for a way to simplify how researchers can measure how well a honey bee colony is doing in different foraging conditions while overcoming individual bee variation.

They found that higher levels of vitellogenin stores were the best predictor of colony size after winter. Higher levels also were associated with increased production of antioxidant enzymes—which reduce cell damage—and greater production of antimicrobial peptides, which contribute to disease resistance.

The researchers eliminated other potential common causes of colony decline except for forage resource, highlighting the importance of pollen and nectar quality provided by the area surrounding the apiary. While the link between the quality of forage and colony health is generally known, this study highlights the value of agriculturally marginal (CRP) landscapes for honey bee production in a region that hosts close to half the U.S. managed bee population (about 1 million colonies) during the summer.

“We’ve also shown that the benefits of high-quality forage such as that provided by CRP land carries right through the overwintering period and leaves bees in the best shape to build up their numbers before being needed to pollinate almonds in February and early March,” said Ricigliano.

Our results provide land managers and scientists with methods to evaluate the relationship between bees and the landscape. For beekeepers, it provides a basis for making decisions about where to put their apiaries for the summer and fall after crop pollination ends so that the colonies will be in a position to build up robust healthy numbers in time for the migration to California for almond pollination, Anderson added.

The Agricultural Research Service is the U.S. Department of Agriculture's chief scientific in-house research agency. Daily, ARS focuses on solutions to agricultural problems affecting America. Each dollar invested in agricultural research results in $20 of economic impac

https://www.ars.usda.gov/news-events/news/research-news/2019/honey-bee-colonies-more-successful-by-foraging-on-non-crop-fields/

Asian Citrus Psyllid Treatment Program in Whittier

The California Department of Food and Agriculture will be conducting treatments in the Whittier area for Asian citrus psyllid (ACP) suppression, due to the detection of citrus trees infected with Huanglonging (HLB) disease.  They will begin treatments on Monday, March 18, 2019 and the treatment will last approximately  2-3 weeks.  See the following map of the area they will be working in. All citrus trees will be treated within the area boundaries using Tempo SC Ultra and Merit 2F.  

See the CDFA website for additional information on the ACP/HLB program: https://www.cdfa.ca.gov/plant/acp/
Pesticide Regulation
Protecting Bees Tips
Asian Citrus Phyllid Whittier Map Enhanced

If you have any questions regarding their program, you can contact:

Celestina Galindo
Environmental Program Manager
California Department of Food and Agriculture
Pest Detection and Emergency Projects

Flowers Can Hear Buzzing Bees - And It Makes Their Nectar Sweeter

National Geographic By Michelle Donahue January 15, 2019

The bowl-shaped flowers of evening primrose may be key to their acoustic capabilities. PHOTOGRAPH BY DENNIS FRATES/ ALAMY

The bowl-shaped flowers of evening primrose may be key to their acoustic capabilities. PHOTOGRAPH BY DENNIS FRATES/ ALAMY

“I’d like people to understand that hearing is not only for ears.”


EVEN ON THE quietest days, the world is full of sounds: birds chirping, wind rustling through trees, and insects humming about their business. The ears of both predator and prey are attuned to one another’s presence.

Sound is so elemental to life and survival that it prompted Tel Aviv University researcher Lilach Hadany to ask: What if it wasn’t just animals that could sense sound—what if plants could, too? The first experiments to test this hypothesis, published recently on the pre-print server bioRxiv, suggest that in at least one case, plants can hear, and it confers a real evolutionary advantage.

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RELATED: TIME-LAPSE VIDEO SHOWS A GARDEN COMING TO LIFE - Journey through a blooming garden of dancing flowers in this incredible four-minute short film. Visual effects artist and filmmaker Jamie Scott spent three years shooting the stunning springtime imagery in this continuous motion time-lapse. The Short Film Showcase spotlights exceptional short videos created by filmmakers from around the web and selected by National Geographic editors. The filmmakers created the content presented, and the opinions expressed are their own, not those of National Geographic Partners.

Hadany’s team looked at evening primroses (Oenothera drummondii) and found that within minutes of sensing vibrations from pollinators’ wings, the plants temporarily increased the concentration of sugar in their flowers’ nectar. In effect, the flowers themselves served as ears, picking up the specific frequencies of bees’ wings while tuning out irrelevant sounds like wind.

The sweetest sound

As an evolutionary theoretician, Hadany says her question was prompted by the realization that sounds are a ubiquitous natural resource—one that plants would be wasting if they didn’t take advantage of it as animals do. If plants had a way of hearing and responding to sound, she figured, it could help them survive and pass on their genetic legacy.

Since pollination is key to plant reproduction, her team started by investigating flowers. Evening primrose, which grows wild on the beaches and in parks around Tel Aviv, emerged as a good candidate, since it has a long bloom time and produces measurable quantities of nectar.

A brown and yellow hoverfly rests on a dewdrop-covered evening primrose in the U.K. PHOTOGRAPH BY MICHAELGRANTWILDLIFE/ ALAMY

A brown and yellow hoverfly rests on a dewdrop-covered evening primrose in the U.K. PHOTOGRAPH BY MICHAELGRANTWILDLIFE/ ALAMY

To test the primroses in the lab, Hadany’s team exposed plants to five sound treatments: silence, recordings of a honeybee from four inches away, and computer-generated sounds in low, intermediate, and high frequencies. Plants given the silent treatment—placed under vibration-blocking glass jars—had no significant increase in nectar sugar concentration. The same went for plants exposed to high-frequency (158 to 160 kilohertz) and intermediate-frequency (34 to 35 kilohertz) sounds.

But for plants exposed to playbacks of bee sounds (0.2 to 0.5 kilohertz) and similarly low-frequency sounds (0.05 to 1 kilohertz), the final analysis revealed an unmistakable response. Within three minutes of exposure to these recordings, sugar concentration in the plants increased from between 12 and 17 percent to 20 percent.

A sweeter treat for pollinators, their theory goes, may draw in more insects, potentially increasing the chances of successful cross-pollination. Indeed, in field observations, researchers found that pollinators were more than nine times more common around plants another pollinator had visited within the previous six minutes.

“We were quite surprised when we found out that it actually worked,” Hadany says. “But after repeating it in other situations, in different seasons, and with plants grown both indoors and outdoors, we feel very confident in the result.”

Flowers for ears

As the team thought about how sound works, via the transmission and interpretation of vibrations, the role of the flowers became even more intriguing. Though blossoms vary widely in shape and size, a good many are concave or bowl-shaped. This makes them perfect for receiving and amplifying sound waves, much like a satellite dish.

To test the vibrational effects of each sound frequency test group, Hadany and her co-author Marine Veits, then a graduate student in Hadany’s lab, put the evening primrose flowers under a machine called a laser vibrometer, which measures minute movements. The team then compared the flowers’ vibrations with those from each of the sound treatments.

“This specific flower is bowl- shaped, so acoustically speaking, it makes sense that this kind of structure would vibrate and increase the vibration within itself,” Veits says.

And indeed it did, at least for the pollinators’ frequencies. Hadany says it was exciting to see the vibrations of the flower match up with the wavelengths of the bee recording.

“You immediately see that it works,” she says.

To confirm that the flower was the responsible structure, the team also ran tests on flowers that had one or more petals removed. Those flowers failed to resonate with either of the low-frequency sounds.

What else plants can hear

Hadany acknowledges that there are many, many questions remaining about this newfound ability of plants to respond to sound. Are some “ears” better for certain frequencies than others? And why does the evening primrose make its nectar so much sweeter when bees are known to be able to detect changes in sugar concentration as small as 1 to 3 percent?

LILACH HADANY, TEL AVIV UNIVERSITY

LILACH HADANY, TEL AVIV UNIVERSITY

Also, could this ability confer other advantages beyond nectar production and pollination? Hadany posits that perhaps plants alert one another to the sound of herbivores mowing down their neighbors. Or maybe they can generate sounds that attract the animals involved in dispersing that plant’s seeds.

“We have to take into account that flowers have evolved with pollinators for a very long time,” Hadany says. “They are living entities, and they, too, need to survive in the world. It’s important for them to be able to sense their environment—especially if they cannot go anywhere.”

This single study has cracked open an entirely new field of scientific research, which Hadany calls phytoacoustics.

Veits wants to know more about the underlying mechanisms behind the phenomenon the research team observed. For instance, what molecular or mechanical processes are driving the vibration and nectar response? She also hopes the work will affirm the idea that it doesn’t always take a traditional sense organ to perceive the world.

“Some people may think, How can [plants] hear or smell?” Veits says. “I’d like people to understand that hearing is not only for ears.”

Richard Karban, an expert in interactions between plants and their pests at the University of California Davis, has questions of his own, in particular, about the evolutionary advantages of plants’ responses to sound.

“It may be possible that plants are able to chemically sense their neighbors, and to evaluate whether or not other plants around them are fertilized,” he says. “There’s no evidence that things like that are going on, but [this study] has done the first step.”

Editor's Note: This story has been updated to correct the percent increase in nectar's sugar concentration.

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/2019/01/flowers-can-hear-bees-and-make-their-nectar-sweeter/