Viewing posts from : July 2021



flower wasp

The Benefits of Wasps

July 28, 2021 Uncategorized

The Benefits of Wasps 

Before you swat a stinging wasp away from your next picnic, pause to consider the delicate and beautiful hammer orchid.

The Australian flowers evolved to resemble the rear end of a female thynnine wasp. It’s a ruse to attract male thynnine wasps.

When a passing wasp makes his move on the flower — tries to have sex with it, in other words — he inadvertently deposits pollen on the orchid’s stigma. Without amorous wasps, these remarkable flowers would never bloom again.

That intricate relationship between flower and insect is one of many ways stinging wasps, or aculeate wasps, benefits ecosystems, human health, and the economy, according to a new review paper by scientists at University College London and the University of East Anglia in the United Kingdom.

 Do Wasps Benefit the Environment? 

Published in Biological Reviews, the journal of the Cambridge Philosophical Society, the study is the most comprehensive meta-analysis of aculeate wasps to date, drawing on more than 500 scientific papers.

These insects, however, have a PR problem. They’re unpopular with the general public and researchers alike. That attitude has resulted in gaping holes in scientific knowledge about wasps’ role in ecosystems, the researchers said and limited our understanding of threats posed to wasps by urbanization, climate crises, and more.

Since spring is when queen wasps start founding colonies across temperate climates, it’s the perfect time to take a second look at insects that, researchers argue, have been overlooked for too long.

“Everyone just kind of associates (wasps) with annoying them at barbecues or beers gardens,” said lead study author Ryan Brock, a doctoral student in evolutionary ecology at the University of East Anglia. “It’s always like: What is the point of wasps?”

Brock explained that the 33,000-odd varieties of stinging wasps included in the new study do more than hover, menacingly, near the potato salad.

“The two main things that wasps are doing for our ecosystems are as pest controllers and as pollinators,” he said. Nearly 1,000 plant species may be pollinated by stinging wasps, found the review, including 164 species, such as the hammer orchid, that rely on wasps alone for pollination.

Should stinging wasps disappear overnight, those 164 plant species would be lost.

 What Benefit do Wasps Provide? 

The insects are also agile predators. “Wasp species that live in large colonies are fantastic at hunting other insect species,” Brock said. Without wasps, Brock said there could be an explosion in caterpillars and aphids. That, in turn, could decimate backyard gardens and crop yields.

Insects eating other insects contribute an estimated $417 billion to the world’s economy each year, the study said. Insect pollination, meanwhile, adds more than $250 billion to the global economy.

While pest control and pollination are stinging wasps’ most prominent roles in the natural world, coauthor Seirian Sumner explained that wasps’ other behaviors — what she called “ecosystem services” — are just as fascinating.

“They can strip a bird clear of meat within a few hours. They disperse seeds,” said Sumner, a professor of behavioral ecology at the University College London, noting that both of these behaviors contribute to thriving ecosystems. She pointed to wasps’ potential to contribute to human health, too.“They can strip a bird clear of meat within a few hours. They disperse seeds,” said Sumner, a professor of behavioral ecology at the University College London, noting that both of these behaviors contribute to thriving ecosystems. She pointed to wasps’ potential to contribute to human health, too.

“Wasps have medicinal properties in their saliva. Mostly, it’s antibiotics,” Sumner said, explaining that wasps’ saliva helps preserve the paralyzed prey they feed their young. The medicinal value of wasps, though, is mainly unexploited, she said. “Their venom sacks are essentially a pharmacy cabinet waiting to be opened.”

bee yard texas

The Almond Catastrophe

July 23, 2021 Uncategorized

The Almond Catastrophe

Based on a The Guardian’s article, the almond industry in California has exponentially grown to a $11 billion dollar industry over the past several years, with Central Valley’s orchards spanning an area the size of Delaware (yes, the size of another state). With this enormous-scale orchard, you can’t help but have some awe about the size.

You can thank the honey bees for the 2.3 billion pounds Central Valley annually harvests; Central Valley cannot operate without the pollination of two million hives’ worth of bees. But, is this mass production too good to be true?

The short answer is yes. The more important question is why?

Central Valley is lovingly nicknamed ‘America’s salad bowl’ for its mix of pollution and chemicals–not the best nickname to have for a valley full of life. After all, pollution is proven to damage plants with stunted growth and necrotic lesions, among other signs.

As for our focus, pollution also sickens honey bees; a study has proven that pollution makes bees sluggish and could shorten their lives. Plus, pollution masks scents, which bees use as a major sense of direction.

But, pollution is just the secondary effect of the primary problem: pesticides’ heavy usage in the Valley. The almond crop has the most pesticides used than any other in California, at a whopping 35 million pounds a year! First of all, pesticides further worsen the pollution problem, which, secondly, brings harmful effects for bees (and humans; pesticide pollution can cause cancer and asthma in human lungs).

pesticide killing bees texas

Pesticides are broadly lethal to the honey bee population. While Central Valley farmers spread pesticide to kill off crop-feeding insects, the farmers are killing off, on average, a third of each commercial beekeeper’s hives each year–the same hives providing the mass pollination. To make the threat worse, illnesses are spread rapidly throughout neighboring hives due to the proximity of the two million hives.

The honeybee population’s health is drastically at risk when pollinating these almond farms; beekeepers struggle to just maintain their population and repopulate bees for the next year. These beekeeper’s keep pollinating Central Valley due to the high profit margin (gaining quadruple the profit of pollinating any other fruit) so they may keep raising bees with financial strength, but this pollution and pesticide problem have to be fixed for the sake of the honeybees.

Central Valley clearly lacks care for the pollinators that keep the farms operational; they upkeep an environmental catastrophe, after all! At this level of pollution, all life in the valley is at risk.

So, Bee Safe Bee Removal asks you to stand with the bees! Tweet and shoutout to the Almond Board of California! We don’t need to shut down the Valley; we just need regulation on pesticides’ distribution. A little more care is all that’s needed to help fix America’s salad bowl, and save the bees! We love to do bee removals, but we can’t help people with their bee issues if honeybees are struggling to survive in the first place. We want to make sure bees are safe no matter what.

If you want to hear more of Bee Safe Bee Removal’s passion, feel free to follow our blog and socials as we aim to provide high quality bee removals that are eco-friendly. Bee Safe out there!

Let's save the bees

Why are Bees Important?

July 19, 2021 Uncategorized

Why are Bees Important?

Imagine today is a Thursday in your typical fall, and you’re driving down Main Street in your city’s downtown towards the farmers market. As a kid, you watched Grandma pick her papaya and onions from a market stand; that was a time of bliss and memory.

Nowadays, that bliss is gone. The market is overrun with larger demand and fewer stalls. Knowing the stalls are already out of stock, you head to the grocery store to find the entire produce aisle also emptied.

This picture is in a world where we let our pollinating bees die. Now, is this picture exaggerated?

Are bees dangerous?

Let me draw you the best case scenario without bees: prices increase and we don’t starve. We humans sustain enough cereal grains–crops that can wind pollinate–that we likely would not starve; we would lose other crops, though. Without bees, the produce aisle either doesn’t exist or wouldn’t be so cheap. The loss of bees would require human or robotic labor to manually pollinate–with either labor being more costly and less efficient than bees’ work. Simply from a point of economics, crops that would cause a negative profit margin will not get the upkeep needed and will disappear from our markets, leading to a lack of produce.

So, here is your answer: the “fall” is the best case scenario.

Frankly, the worst case scenario would lead to food webs falling apart, affecting us and surrounding ecosystems with a loss of food; that is simple biology in its scariest sense. We really don’t want to imagine life without bees.

You see, thousands of bee species have co-evolved with the plants they pollinate over the ages–covering 80% of all flowering plants! Bee’s furry bodies, variance of size, seasonal tendencies, and some species’ ability to buzz pollinate (rapidly free pollen that’s stuck) make bees the perfect pollinators that cannot be easily substituted by human or machine power.

The real downer is how the population of bees is already diminishing due to several factors. Beekeepers worldwide recognize the bees’ decrease and the importance of our perfect pollinators, hence why we fiercely defend their lives.

So, we ask you to stand with us. Let this be a wake-up call to at least be mindful of our buzzing buddies, because this article is sadly not exaggerated; we just don’t know the timeline, so we must act now to keep the bees buzzing.

Follow us as we share experiences and knowledge in our journey to keep bees safe at Bee Safe Bee Removal.

Why are bees important?

bee waggle dance

Language of the Bees

July 13, 2021 Uncategorized

Language of the Bees

Humans were thought to be the only species to have abstract language in their movement, but we cannot claim to be the only species now. Abstract language is defined by the meaning from nonverbal messages. With this definition, honey bees have one of the most sophisticated abstract languages of all animalia–nearing human language.

The Waggle Dance

Honeybee workers perform a series of movements, often referred to as the “waggle dance,” to teach other workers the location of food sources more than 150 meters from the hive! Scout bees fly from the colony in search of pollen and nectar. If successful in finding surplus supplies of food, the scouts return to the hive and “dance” on the honeycomb.

The honeybee first walks straight ahead, strongly shaking its abdomen and producing a buzzing sound with the beat of its wings; the distance and speed of this movement communicates the distance of the scavenging site to the others. Communicating direction becomes more complex, as the dancing bee aligns her body in the direction of the food, relative to the sun–which changes throughout the day. The entire dance pattern is a figure-eight loop, with the bee repeating the straight waggle each time it circles to the center.

Honeybees also use two varieties of the waggle dance to direct others to food sources closer to home. The round dance, a series of narrow, circular motions, alerts colony members to the presence of food within 50 meters of the hive. This dance only communicates the relative distance of the supply, not the direction. The sickle dance, a crescent-shaped pattern of moves, alerts workers to food supplies within 50-150 meters from the hive, functioning similar to the round.

After performing the waggle dance, the scout bees may share some of the foraged food with the following workers, to communicate the quality of the food supply available at the location.

honey bee waggle dance

Discovery

The honeybee dance was observed and noted by Aristotle as early as 330 B.C. Karl von Frisch, a professor of zoology in Munich, Germany, earned the Nobel Prize in 1973 for his groundbreaking research and explanation on this dance language. Frisch’s The Dance Language and Orientation of Bees, published in 1967, presents fifty years of research on honeybee communication.

Odor Communication

Besides the waggle dance, honeybees use odor cues from food sources to transmit information to other bees. Some researchers believe the scout bees carry the unique smells of flowers they visit on their bodies, and that these odors must be present for the waggle dance to work. Using a robotic honeybee programmed to perform the waggle dance, scientists noticed the followers could fly the proper distance and direction but were unable to identify the specific food source present there. When the floral odor was added to the robotic honeybee, other workers could locate the flowers.

Odor cues also transmit important information to members of the honeybee colony. The queen bee produces a unique odor that tells the community she is alive and well, which wafts throughout the hive from bees’ wings passing the scent along. When a queen is introduced to a colony, the bees must get familiar with her smell to recognize her as their own. To help with the transition, beekeepers will keep a new queen in a separate cage within the hive for a few days.

Also, pheromones produced and secreted by the queen control reproduction in the hive. She emits pheromones that keep female workers disinterested in mating,​ while also using pheromones to encourage male drones to mate with her.

Hive Defense

The waggle dance is not just used for pointing to food, though; they communicate incoming attacks. As a wasp approaches, the honey bees vibrate and perform round dances to warn of nearby danger. Workers will rush for any nearby foul odor-producing fauna; anything that would deter predators from approaching the hive will be smeared near the entrance. Their dance of beats, buzzes, and movement allows for quick dissemination of the warning, enabling immediate action when the hive is threatened.

Hormones play a role in the defense of the hive as well. After stinging, a worker honeybee produces a pheromone that alerts its fellow workers to the threat. That pheromone is why a careless intruder may suffer numerous bee stings if a honeybee colony is disturbed.

Linguistics: Waggle’s Sophistication

Why is the waggle dance so accurate? More so, does the waggle dance allow for more messages than just pointing to food? How close is it to language, as we humans see it?

Bees have “words” with the buzzing and length of dances; bees have grammar for the order in which they communicate, to get attention and walk through instructions in order; bees have rules for how they address others.

The only real differences between our languages and theirs is that ours is learned and limitless, while theirs is known from birth and has limits–though we are not exactly sure what those limits are (scientists thought the waggle just communicated food until they proved a bee warned its hive of a wasp).

Bees barbecue

How to Get Rid of Bees in your Barbecue Grill

July 12, 2021 Uncategorized

Bee Swarm on top of a Bell

The heat of a Texas summer presents a great opportunity for many to wind down in the outdoors–swimming and having a nice BBQ on the grill.

Nothing ruins that blissful bite of your freshly broiled hamburger more than some buzzing buddies getting all up in your business. After all, why do they insist on disturbing this sit-back second, of all times? Well, it’s their instinct.

Your BBQ simply attracts bees for the simple aim of food, as the smell attracts bees and neighbors alike. Furthering the attraction for the bees, a bright and sweet palette (like a side of watermelon) reminds honey bees of the flowers they forage.

Not all hope is lost though; you can still grill with some simple steps:

  1. Seal your food.
  2. Isolate the food.
  3. Stay calm.

An easy step is to cover your food. Since bees are primarily attracted by the smell, blocking such masks the palette presence. Covering a plate with paper towels is the most basic step to disrupting the smell, but you really need a seal if you want to block off the scent. This step is especially simple with any side dishes, with proper preparation. Put any watermelon or potato salad in a tupperware before bringing it outside for the tightest seal; plastic wrap or equivalent would be the next best seal if tupperware is not available or convenient. Naturally, you can perform similar operations on your grilled items as you see fit.

The next step is to keep food away from your party. One way to help dampen the aroma of your BBQ is to leave the entrees and sides inside (the house has a pretty good seal). If you want to keep food outside though, just keep the serving table away from where you’ll sit for a lower chance of honey bees being your buddies.

The most important step is to stay calm. Do not aggravate the bees–especially do not aggravate a nest–and assess the situation. If the buzzing buddies become a problem, or you feel they are, get help. Do not try to kill a nest by yourself, else the nest left behind may cause future problems. Call up a bee removal professional (we would be happy to help) and properly say farewell to those buzzing buddies.

Bee in danger

Honey Bees Dying at Increasing Rates

July 1, 2021 Beekeeping

The summer of 2021 has been significant to people around the nation. People are finding the time to go out more, but what about the bees? What does this summer mean to them? The Bee Informed, a nonprofit organization using data to improve the lives of honey bees, has presented honey bee colony losses in the United States for 2020-2021. This summer means that bees are in more danger than ever.

The annual survey covers over 3,000 beekeepers that manage 7% of all the honey bee colonies that are present in the United States. When comparing summer and winter losses, the report finds that commercial beekeepers (managing more than 500 colonies) have been affected worse than backyard beekeepers (managing less than 50 colonies) and sideliner beekeepers (managing 51-500). The labor of commercial honey bee colonies help pollinate an estimated $15 billion amount of food crops per year, so commercial beekeepers are going to start looking to find preventive methods.

Usually bee colonies die in the winter, but the reports demonstrate how bee colonies are dying throughout the year from various events. Most common issues come from parasitic Varroa destructor mite (main cause), queen behavior, and starvation. Beekeepers need to spend more time and resources to divide surviving bee colonies to replace the lost colonies. 

Although colony death rates go up and down every year, the worrying part that Natialie Steinhauer, science coordinator of The Bee Informed, states is how there appears to be no rapid progression to reducing the losses. There are various research programs aimed to understand the managed honey bee colonies, such as treating bees from the parasitic varroa mite to increasing plants for essential nutrition to reducing the usage of pesticides that harm bees. So, while beekeepers are changing their methods to reduce honey bee colony losses, there’s a long way to go until science catches up with bee’s summers.

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