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Did you know???

 

Calculate the fastest route between flower heads Photo Pamela Todd

Calculate the fastest route between flower heads
Photo: Pamela Todd

Bees can solve a mathematical problem faster than a computer can?

Scientists have recently discovered that bees can quickly and accurately work out the fastest route between the flowers they visit in their search for food! You might expect them to visit the flowers in the order they found them, but no, they try a few different routes, then settle on the fastest. Very time and energy saving and so amazing!

 

Diagram: cnx.org / Systems of gas exchange

Diagram: cnx.org / Systems of gas exchange

How does a bee breathe?

Have you noticed when a bee is resting after flying its abdomen pumps in and out, looking like it is panting? But bees do not breathe through their mouths and they do not have lungs, like we do, so why do they do this?

Air goes in and out through tiny holes called spiracles which run in a line down both sides of the bee’s body. The air is passed around the inside of its body in a series of tubes called tracheae that get smaller and smaller. These take oxygen to all the bee’s tissues and carbon dioxide away from them.

It is the in-and-out movement of the bee’s abdomen that squeezes the air through the tracheae and, normally, this is a slow and gentle process. But, after exercise such as flying, a bee needs extra air, just as you do after running, and she has to ‘pant’ her abdomen faster to force more air into her body.
Bee on lavender

Bees can sense a flower’s electric field!

Scientists at Bristol University have found out that bees can sense a flower’s electric field and so decide which flowers to visit.

Just like when you rub a balloon on your hair, bees become charged with a positive charge as they fly through the air.

Flowers have a slightly negative field. When bee meets flower, this helps pollen jump from the flower onto the bees’ body, just like electric Velcro! It also helps the bees find out which flower has already been visited by another bee so that they don’t waste time going to flowers which are ‘empty’ of nectar.

No one knows, as yet, how the bees sense the flowers electric field.

 

There are three different types of queen cells

It is important to know which yours are and what is likely to happen!
1. Swarm cells – built when the colony is aiming to swarm. There are usually quite a few of them (5-20) and often they are built around the edges of the comb. You need to act or you will lose at least one swarm.
2. Supercedure cells – few in number (1-3), often placed in the centre of the brood frame. Here the colony is trying to raise a new queen to replace the old one. If there is only one supercedure cell – you should leave the bees to raise their new queen. More than 1? The bees may swarm.
3. Emergency queen cells – built on existing very young worker bee larvae. The presence of these indicates that the colony is queenless or the queen has failed. The raised queen is more likely to be poor than those that develop as queen cells from the start. Do not be tempted to cut out queen cells until you know what is going on with the colony as this can be dangerous. You may leave your colony hopelessly queenless.

Do you know the difference when you see queen cells? Photo 1 (left): supercedure cell - Eberthoney Photo 2 (right): swarm cells - scientific beekeeping

Do you know the difference when you see queen cells?
Photo 1 (left): supercedure cell – Eberthoney
Photo 2 (right): swarm cells – scientific beekeeping

Here is a frame of healthy brood. On it you can see the domed cappings of drone brood to the left, the flat cappings of worker brood in the centre and two sealed queen cells!

A frame of healthy brood
Photo: beeinformed

Here is a frame of healthy brood. On it you can see the domed cappings of drone brood to the left, the flat cappings of worker brood in the centre and two sealed queen cells! Queen bees take 16 days to develop from egg to adult and the cell containing the queen larva is sealed on day 8. If this is the sight you see when you open your hive and you haven’t made an artificial swarm, or used alternative swarm prevention methods, then you may already have lost your swarm. Headed by the old queen the swarm will leave, if the weather is suitable, around the time the queen cell is sealed.