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Bee Behavior Mimics Brain Neuron Function -

“A new study of bees has come to the conclusion that bee swarm communication works similarly to that of neurons in the human brain.

The study, published in the December 9 issue of Science, found that bees use inhibitory “stop” signals to prohibit the scout bees from completing a waggle dance that helps bees learn the directions of competing sites for new hives. This behavior helps to ensure that the best homesite is found for the hive.

Thomas Seeley, a biologist from Cornell University, said this behavior is “analogous to how the nervous system works in complex brains. The brain has similar cross inhibitory signaling between neurons in decision-making circuits.”

To study this behavior the researchers set up swarms, one at a time, on an island off the coast of Maine that was devoid of natural nesting cavities. After setting out two identical nesting boxes, they labeled scout bees with two different paint colors. They then videotaped the scout bees doing the waggle dance. The dances were tracked by watching the scout bees with the marks by using microphones and videotape to tell when they received the stop signals and from which bees.

The team observed that the stop signals came from scouts that were marked at the other site.

Visscher said, “The message the sender scout is conveying to the dancer appears to be that the dancer should curb her enthusiasm, because there is another nest site worthy of consideration Such an inhibitory signal is not hostile. It’s simply saying, ‘Wait a minute, here’s something else to consider, so let’s not be hasty in recruiting every bee to a site that may not be the best one for the swarm. All the bees have a common interest in choosing the best available site.”

According to the press release once the bees decide to swarm and move to a new nesting site the message of the stop signal changes. Visscher says, “Apparently at this point, the message of the stop signal changes, and can be thought of as, ‘Stop dancing, it is time to get ready for the swarm to fly. It is important for the scouts to be with the swarm when it takes off, because they are responsible for guiding the flight to the nest site.”

[click here to view the full article on redorbit.com]

[click here to view similar articles on psypost.org and arstechnica.com]

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“Art is the stored honey of the human soul” -Theodore Dreiser

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Beeswax Bottles Candle Set
Recycled Wood Beehouse
Cast Stone Bee Skep

Bee Tumbler

The Beekeeper’s Bible

Honeycomb Stick

Chalkboard Honey Pot

Worker B Treatment Stick

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Honeylovin ?

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Bees help make raspberries in Kenya

“A few days ago I visited a friend of mine who runs a farm on the outskirts of Nairobi. Su Kahumbu is an organic farmer who does amazing work with farmers across Kenya promoting sustainable agriculture and innovation…

One of the crops growing at her beautiful model farm are raspberries.

These delicious fruits are one of my favourite desserts… And of course in order to have raspberries on the table you need to have raspberry bushes. The raspberry bushes have flowers that need to be pollinated in order for the beautiful and yummy fruit to develop…

Raspberry flowers are composite flowers – which means that they are actually made up of many tiny individual flowers all joined together.

In order for a flower to set fruit, it needs to be pollinated. On Su’s farm these free services are provided to her raspberry bushes by several different kinds of bees. One of the most common pollinators is the honeybee…

As these are composite flowers, every single tiny individual flower, called a floret, needs to be visited and gently dusted with pollen by a bee. Otherwise there will be no fruits produced.

…The quality, shape, flavour and size of the raspberry fruit are all directly tied to the efficiency of the pollinators. Too little pollen and the fruit is pale, small and not very sweet. It takes many visits by many bees to make a fruit round and sweet..

It is the actions of all these bees who make the delicious raspberries happen!

Please think of the bees that put the food on your table next time you enjoy some raspberries for breakfast or dessert…”

[Click here to read the full article on NationalGeographic.com]

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i <3 bees

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Article by N’ann Harp:

“When early colonists first sailed to the New World in the 1620s, they brought along their cherished European honey bees, introducing Apis mellifera to the North American continent. Here, while sowing the seeds of statehood, our pioneer forebears continued to practice the customs of rural England, where honey bees had long been treated as family members. “Telling the bees” about births, marriages and deaths and including them in special occasions was part of the fabric of family life.

“Today, small-scale, organic beekeeping is making a timely comeback, with renewed interest in and respect for these lost arts from a simpler time…

Humans share with honey bees an ancient, intimate and symbiotic relationship of mutual benefit. Although the fossil records indicate that honey bees were thriving on the planet for an estimated 70 million years prior to the appearance of man, human beings and these highly-evolved social insects quickly developed an enduring affinity for each other.

Our interconnectedness goes back at least 10,000 years, when humans began to record their honey-hunting activities in charcoal and chalk pictographs on cave walls. Honey was a valuable food source for our ancestors and they collected it avidly.

As the hunter-gatherer societies settled into self-sustaining family groups, small garden plots became a familiar center of agriculture and social stability. Honey bees adapted to the increasingly organized agricultural system, attracted to the flowering fruit and vegetable crops that sustained their own hive and honey production needs. In return, the bees enhanced pollination and increased harvest yields for their human partners.

Over the intervening millennia, this interspecies friendship has evolved into the practices of modern beekeeping, generating dozens of crop-specific industries. Roughly 100 of the world’s favorite food crops are now directly reliant upon honeybee pollination, which translates to about 40 percent of the human diet.

Today, however, the very capacity for cross-species cooperation that gave rise to the human-honeybee relationship has also given rise to a host of unintended consequences, including a phenomenon dubbed Colony Collapse Disorder, in which resident honey bees simply vanish from hives.

Something is seriously wrong and scientists are stumped. Some observers call the situation the “perfect storm” of circumstances, which includes the proliferation of pesticide and chemical use in mono-crop production; poor queen breeding practices; loss of genetic diversity; immune system weaknesses; global trade expansion, introducing alien pests against which local bees haven’t had time to develop resistance; mystery viruses; and the usual pests, threats and challenges of sustaining healthy, resilient colonies that can produce strong queen bees.

Hope for saving the world’s hardest-working pollinator may lie in finding ways to dramatically increase honeybee research funding, which is being decreased in some states, due to budget cuts…

A powerfully positive alternative action, encouraged by under-funded researchers, is for private individuals to take up small-scale beekeeping.

“An army of amateur beekeepers could become part of an eventual solution by helping to collect field data in a wide array of microclimates and conditions,” suggests David Tarpy, Ph.D., the state apiculturist and an associate professor of entomology at North Carolina State University…”

Click here to read the full article by N’ann Harp on voflnatural.com

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White House Garden Yields a Ton of Produce, Literally!

“Back in 2009, Michelle Obama had a vision to create a garden at the White House. With the help of school children and Sam Kass, assistant White House chef and senior policy adviser for healthy food initiatives, Mrs. Obama’s dream became a reality. The start-up cost for the garden that now graces the South Lawn was $200 and it has produced over 2,000 pounds of produce to date in a 1,500 square foot space.

The produce created at the White House includes a variety of vegetables (lettuce, spinach, tomatoes, etc.) and an abundance of fresh herbs (cilantro, rosemary, parsley, sage, thyme, etc.).

According to Sam Kass, the veggies are not certified organic, but no pesticides are used. Kass tells Better Homes and Gardens, “– we use natural controls. We have ladybugs and praying mantises — they do a pretty good job of keeping our garden pest-free.” 

Veggies produced on the South Lawn garden go to more than just the dinner table at the White House. What doesn’t get stored, canned, or pickled goes to homeless shelters, the Navy mess that feeds the West Wing staff, and to the kitchen for State Dinners.

Michelle Obama has promoted, encouraged, and succeeded in showcasing a healthy food agenda with her White House garden. In addition to her garden, she has also added honeybees to the South Lawn which provide pollination for the garden and, of course, honey, a fabulous alternative to sugar.”

Click here to read the article on ecorazzi.com

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WE JUST REACHED 700 ONLINE SIGNATURES!! Please help us to legalize beekeeping!!
http://www.change.org/petitions/help-legalize-beekeeping-in-mar-vista 
(you do not need to live in Los Angeles to sign – please pass it on!!)

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“What’s killing the bees? —my question has shifted more towards, “Good lord, what doesn’t kill bees”

“…Colony Collapse Disorder is a problem. But it isn’t the problem. Instead, it’s just a great big insult piled on top of an already rising injury rate. Saving the honeybee isn’t just about figuring out CCD. Bees were already in trouble before that came along. “ 

Maggie Koerth-Baker

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