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Archive for the ‘bees’ Category

Man Covered Himself With More Than 600,000 Honey Bees

Many people harbor a fear of arthropods. There is just something about the look of spiders, insects and even crustaceans, like lobsters, that give people the creeps. The term “arachnophobia” is well known to mean a fear of arachnids, like spiders and scorpions, but the general fear of insects, or “entomophobia,” is not as common as the fear of spiders. While many people consider all arachnid species to be terrifying, there exists many insect species that even the most fearful of entomophobes are perfectly okay with, such as ladybugs or honey bees. Although honey bees are capable of dealing out painful stings, they are not commonly feared to the same degree as other stinging insects, like wasps. This may be due to the fact that bees make life on earth much easier for humans, as they pollinate valued crops and provide delicious honey as well as useful beeswax to humans. However, an individual honey bee is one thing, but a swarm of honey bees is something else entirely. Upon encountering an active honey bee hive or a wild swarm, it is not unreasonable to fear for your life, as honey bee attacks result in numerous human fatalities each year. Despite the clear danger that bees pose to humans, one seemingly fearless man has broken a world record by allowing his body to become completely covered with honey bees. To be more precise, the combined weight of all the bees that covered the man weighed even more than the man himself.

Ever since the mid 1800s, the act of “bee bearding” has been a popular carnival attraction. The term comes from the practice of allowing hundreds or even thousands of bees to congregate on a performer’s face in order to appear as though the performer has a beard made of live bees. Over the years, the practice of bee bearding became more intense as stunt performers progressively allowed more and more bees to congregate on their body. Therefore, it should not be surprising to learn that stunt performers have been consistently setting new world records for the amount of bees used in bee bearding stunts. The latest daredevil of this sort, a Chinese man named Ruan Liangming, has just broken the latest world record in bee bearding by allowing his body to become covered in more than 140 pounds of bees. The amount of individual bees on Ruan’s body was estimated to be near 637,000, and 60 of these bees were highly aggressive queen bees. According to Ruan, the trick to avoiding stings during bee bearding stunts is to remain calm. This should be helpful advice to any aspiring carny hoping to indulge in bee bearding for a living.

Have you ever seen the act of bee bearding portrayed in any films or TV shows?

 

 

The Unlikely Insects That Pollinate Plants In Arctic Regions Where Bees Are Almost Non-Existent

Many people picture arctic regions to be nothing more than vast landscapes covered entirely with snow. In reality, only the most northern regions of earth are comprised entirely of barren landscapes of frozen snow. Plant life is surprisingly diverse and abundant in southern arctic regions, but pollinating bees are not. While some pollinating bee species do exist in arctic regions, they are far too scarce to perpetuate arctic plant life on their own. Obviously, this means that pollination duties in the arctic must be carried out by other types of airborne insect life.

Bees are associated with pollination for a good reason, as bees pollinate the majority of the world’s flowering vegetation. However, in the arctic, flies are largely responsible for carrying out pollination duties. The most significant pollinating insect in the arctic is closely related to the common housefly. Unfortunately, the current global decline in insect populations could lead to a drastic decrease in arctic vegetation. In fact, this troubling trend is already occurring.

Flowering occurs in arctic regions immediately after the first snow melt of the season. At this time of year, flowering plants compete intensely for the pollination services that flies provide. Only the flowers that are most attractive to pollinating flies will reproduce. According to Finnish researchers, the diversity and number of flowering plants in the arctic is decreasing. It has been theorized that this decrease is occurring in response to the global decrease in Muscidae species. “Muscidae” is the name given to the family of flies that are referred to as common flies, as they are distributed in all regions of the globe. Also, the warming climate is causing snow to melt earlier than normal, which results in an earlier bloom. This is problematic as many flowering plants die before the annual abundance of pollinating flies arrive. Since the continued seed production of arctic vegetation depends almost entirely on Muscidae flies, it may not be long before plant life ceases to exist in the arctic.

Do you think that the dying-off of arctic vegetation due to the decrease in Muscidae flies will have a negative impact on humans in any way?

 

 

 

 

Researchers Discover Fifteen New And Odd Looking Bee Species

Researchers Discover Fifteen New And Odd Looking Bee Species

There exists many insect species that secretly, and not so secretly, dwell within the nests of other species. Many wasp species are notable for nesting and laying eggs within other insect species nests. Bees, on the other hand, are not so well known for squatting and raising their offspring within the nests of different insect species. However, cuckoo bee species are one of the few types of bees that do invade foreign nests. Not surprisingly, these bees are often confused with wasps due to the similar features that these two insect groups share. Cuckoo bees are not well studied because many undocumented cuckoo species look nearly identical to many already documented cuckoo species. Making an accurate distinction between documented and undocumented cuckoo species is not easy without thorough examinations that involve sophisticated equipment. Researchers searching for new insect species in the wild may ignore new cuckoo specimens since they may closely resemble cuckoo specimens that have already been described by science. In addition to these species identification problems, cuckoo bees are also excessively small, and can be very difficult to capture. Although this insect species is notoriously elusive, researchers from New York University recently found and documented fifteen previously unknown cuckoo bee species.

Now that fifteen new cuckoo bee species have been discovered, the total amount of documented cuckoo bees in North America today amounts to forty three different species that belong to the Epeolus genus. Cuckoo bees are surprisingly abundant within North America, but most of these species are never seen by human eyes. This is because cuckoo species hover low to the ground where their tiny five to ten millimeter long bodies cannot be perceived against the background of nature. The new cuckoo bee specimens were discovered by York University PhD Candidate Thomas Onuferko. According to Onuferko, many of these new cuckoo species have been seen by both experts and average people for several years, but until now, nobody has bothered to formally describe or even name the cuckoo specimens. Cuckoo bees are best known for their practice of sneaking unseen into the nests of other insect species, mostly solitary bee species. Cuckoo bee larvae eventually feed on the nest’s inhabitants until it is strong enough to fly away.

Have you ever tried to catch a strange looking insect in order to have it identified?

Honey Bees Are Not The Best Insect Pollinators

Honey Bees Are Not The Best Insect Pollinators

During the past ten to fifteen years, entomologists and other scientists all over the world have been discussing the issue of declining bee populations around the world. Obviously, the declining bee population is alarming due to the fact that bees are earth’s primary pollinators. Much of the time, news stories on this topic mention dwindling honey bee populations while ignoring all other bee species. You may be thinking that honey bees are addressed more often than other bee species because honey bees are the most important pollinators. However, this is not necessarily the case, as a recent study has demonstrated that only one third of crop plants in the United Kingdom are pollinated by honey bees, and even fewer honey bees pollinate wild plant life in the country. Bumblebees pollinate far more plants than honey bees, and new research is showing that honey bees can even contribute to the current global bee population crisis.

In addition to honey bees, insects like flies, butterflies and other bee species also pollinate plants. Naturally, some insects pollinate plants more rapidly than other insects. There are many factors that determine how effectively certain insect species will pollinate plants. Insects that are big and hairy, like bumblebees, end up pollinating the highest amount of plants since pollen easily becomes stuck within their hairs. This pollen eventually dislodges from the bumblebees body and winds up falling on a flower, successfully pollinating the flower. Honey bees can even spread exotic plants and pathogens that often kill other pollinating insects. In this case, honey bees contribute to the global drop in pollinating bee species.

Do you think that the population decline affecting bee species could be caused by a disease that only affects bees?

The Bees That Drink Your Bodily Fluids

The Bees That Drink Your Bodily Fluids

Believe or not, but your bodily fluids are in high demand. You cannot get paid for your tears and sweat, but bees would certainly appreciate a heaping helping of your perspiration. Your sweat and tears are highly sought after by hundreds of different bee species. So why on earth do bees consume sweat and tears? Well it turns out that your bodily fluids are quite nutritious. This is the best explanation that researchers can come up with concerning the love that bees have for mammalian bodily fluids. Bees are selective when it comes to the bodily fluids that they consume. For example, bees prefer sweat and tears that are extra salty. This is why bees prefer human bodily fluids over bodily fluids from all other animals. Humans have relatively high amounts of salt in their tears as a result of consuming salty processed foods. This preference for sweat and tears is so common that even the latest bee to be discovered cannot get enough of that salty goodness.

The large group of wild bees that seek out mammalian perspiration are small relative to many other types of bees. This is why flying sweat-bees go unnoticed by people most of the time. Also, people rarely take notice of wild sweat-bees because they do not sting. Even if a sweat-bee landed on a person’s arm or leg, they will most likely go unnoticed. Sweat-bees are plentiful in the United States. In fact, the latest bee to be discovered was found and captured in Brooklyn, New York. This new sweat-loving bee species has been named Lasioglossum gotham.

In order to determine just how much certain bees love sweat and tears, researchers used themselves as guinea pigs in an experiment. Researchers in Thailand gathered several different species of bee, all of which consumed mammalian bodily secretions. The researchers sat in a room with their eyes wide open. The room also contained significant amounts of meat, Ovaltine, cheese and a variety of other foods. Much to the surprise of the researchers, each bee species preferred to consume the human tears as opposed to the other edible items that were available. In the experiment the bees landed near the researcher’s eyes for a quick tear fix. Of course, the researchers automatically blinked when the bees approached their eyes, but the bees were persistent, so they kept making efforts to consume the researcher’s tears.

There was one particular bee species, Lisotrigona, that landed on the researchers eyes so softly, that the researchers did not even notice the bee’s presence. Even when one researcher walked about the room the bee that was actively consuming his tears went unnoticed. Not surprisingly, it became uncomfortable when several bees attempted to consume the researcher’s tears. Bees even desperately tried to access more tears after the researchers closed their eyelids. Bees likely prefer tears and sweat due to their high protein content. Eventually, the research team captured two hundred and sixty two bees by using their own eyes as bait.

Would you be willing to let a bee drink your tears for science?

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