It was an exciting day at Apimondia! Bee scientists spent the day reporting out new findings and exciting technological breakthroughs. Among the highlights:
- Bees can now be "chipped" and monitored by their " bar codes." By placing tracking devices that can follow the bees, researchers have collected a wealth of data on bee interactions inside the hive and movements outside the hive.
- Researchers have developed a website called beescape.org that can tell you the probability of bees surviving the winter based on the pollen in the landscape.
- Noticing that some bees tend to be less social than their peers, researchers studied their genome and found these "lonely" bees had overlap with autism markers in humans.
- Mostly honeybees are truly social; when they find a good food source, they dance more to help the hive find the food rather than keep it for themselves.
- Then again, when given cocaine, bees will also dance more. Sort that one out if you can!
- While early lab studies were unable to show direct connection between neonics and colony collapse disorder, research has gotten much more sophisticated and results are clearly showing that bees colonies are being decimated by a combination of pesticides, viruses, mites, and poor nutrition. One three month study showed that most of the contaminants came from pollen--but the pollen was not from crops, rather it came from native hedgerow plants. This strongly suggests that neonics are leaking into the groundwater and being taken up by non-target plants. How's that for discouraging?
Stalking the Famous Scientists
Okay, we tried really hard to be subtle, but it's not every day you find yourself alone on a staircase with the famous bee researcher Marla Spivak. After following her around for twenty minutes, we finally cornered her at the bottom of the stairs where she couldn't escape. She was really nice anyway. And she remembered Bee Boy. And his dad who had called her for advice about planting pollinator friendly gardens on state property. And Aunt Girl (who edited her work 15 years ago). And then she invited Bee Boy to get in touch with her about working in her lab next summer! (with the one caveat that he not steal a university vehicle and crash it up)
Marla Spivak was so nice we didn't have to stalk Thomas Seeley. Bee Boy just marched right up to him and introduced himself. Dr. Seeley couldn't have been nicer, encouraging Bee Boy to keep up the good work, and passing along a name of a fellow student/current faculty member doing bee research at Wellsely College for Bee Boy to contact. Who says you shouldn't meet your hero? And he graciously signed Bee Boy's copy of his book too!
Cool Future Technology
A new app will allow beekeepers to scan the bees on their frame and identify varroa mites visually--no more sugar or alcohol tests to identify and quantify the nasty critters. The app will then give the user a treatment recommendation.
Having Fun in Montreal
Just cuz, Canada is really fun. Convention Center has Cool Stuff!