A new UF / IFAS study identified genetic characteristics associated with the production and behavioral attributes of these two important bee variants. For example, researchers have found that Cape honey bees are significantly darker than Africanized bees. This dark color may be genetically correlated with those unwanted behaviors.
Both variants are undesirable in the United States. The first is the “killer bee” or “Africanized bee,” scientifically known as A.m. scutellata is a bright-colored bee known for its territorial and defensive properties. This subspecies was introduced to Brazil from South Africa’s natural habitat in the 1950s. There she mated with a subspecies of European honeybees bred by Brazilian beekeepers, then moved to the United States. A.M. scutellata is considered an invasive bee and can inherit colonies from controlled bees, potentially reducing the interests of beekeepers. They are also known for their increased defensive behavior.
The second subspecies studied, the “Cape honey bee,” is scientifically known as the morning. capensis causes many problems for beekeepers. These bees are more submissive than Africanized bees, but are more likely to inherit urticaria. Cape honey bees are considered social parasites. Unlike other bee variants, cape worker bees can replicate themselves and lay female eggs without first mating. These clones can take over the honeycomb. These workers cannot breed at the same rate as the traditional queen, and the colonies eventually diminish and collapse. This is a phenomenon known as the “Capensis Catastrophe.” “More amazing than the ability of Cape Worker bees to replicate themselves is the speed at which they can take over other colonies,” said Jamie Ellis, a UF / IFAS professor. “We are working to keep these bees from invading the United States, because in most cases when these bees take over the colony, the colony is destined.”
For living things. In this case, researchers sought to understand what genetic characteristics contribute to the appearance and behavior of these bees. Using data collected from South African bees from previous studies funded by the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service in 2013 and 2014, scientists can determine which genes are responsible for the physical characteristics of these subspecies. I tried to understand.
Laura Patterson Rosa, a PhD student at the University of Florida / IFAS and co-author of the study, said: “What we have found has many implications. We have not yet been able to validate these new discoveries with additional populations, but if the results withstand the challenges of time, we will see behavioral changes. Can partially explain the reasons, the reasons for not recognizing the existence of other queens, and why they can be self-cloned when other bees cannot.
“The color phenotype is of beekeeping management. It’s an important aspect, “Ellis said. “It helps beekeepers know what kind of bees they have.” Cape honey bees are considerably darker than Africanized bees. This dark shade may be genetically correlated with their cloning and colonization behavior. “There are potentially more than 30 variants of honeybees. Only two have been examined in published studies,” he said. “Does this finding apply to other dark-colored bee variants?
It is interesting to look for these mutations in all variants of Western honey bee and determine if this is the case. Special thanks to the supporters of this study, including USDA APHIS and the Florida Agricultural Consumer Services Authority, led by Honey Bee Technical Council.
We love the opportunities to harvest excess honey from beehives we host in our apiary! And, in the spirit of Thanksgiving (the season of food and flavor), we’re going to talk about honey harvesting.
When it comes to the actual honey harvest, the process is relatively simple and can be done in any kitchen. You just have to remove the honeycomb first. Below, we will talk of the process in chronological order, starting with getting the honeycomb itself.
Oh, and if you were to be following these steps, we would assume you have the proper beekeeping equipment if you have a hive to harvest from. This is mostly written for the curiosity of others who want to know how it’s done.
First, we analyze a hive and determine if it’s harvestable. And by harvestable, I mean if the hive has excess. The bees keep most of their frames to continue growing their colony.
If we acknowledge excess to harvest, then we extract the comb from the hive with a hive tool (kind of like a crowbar with a sharp edge) and place the comb into a bucket.
Then, we bring the bucket inside.
And prepare fine mesh bags.
There’s no end-all, be-all method for extracting honey from the comb. Fine mesh bags (intended for paint) works wonders, and those can be bought from your local hardware store.
Simply, place a large bowl under where honey will be harvested.
Honeycomb is put inside the mesh bag and squeezed.
This will be very sticky. And requires a surprising amount of grip strength.
Then, we pour the lot into storage containers.
Local honey, voila!
The process isn’t all that complicated, especially when we do small-scale harvesting. Honey harvesting is not our focus, as we focus on cultivating bees as an apiculture—raising honeybees and selling colonies to other beekeepers.
Is Harvesting Honey Healthy for the Bees?
Simply, yes. As long as you leave enough comb/frames for them to continue growth. You can take away too much, which will stunt their growth. But, a hive produces honey in pounds aplenty–easily able to fill several beehives–in a season. The loss of a few frames doesn’t phase them.
In fact, harvesting honey is healthy for them in the sense that it gives them work, which prevents swarming. If you don’t harvest a hive, then the untouched colony will surely swarm twice in a season. Which is great for fostering genetic diversity in nature, but swarms are less appreciated in urban areas. Hence why we do bee removals in Dallas and all over the United States.
When you receive a bee service from Bee Safe Bee Removal or any other bee removal company, it is highly important that you know what to do to make sure our professional beekeepers will do a safe bee removal service job. Our bee services include a wide range of options for our customers to choose from. Customers can select a safe bee removal service that will fix construction or leave it as (perhaps you find a more affordable contractor) or a wasp extermination for the main job. Either way you go, customers will be able to find great pricing options from us. After you agree to a job and pricing with our sale’s team, our professional beekeepers will be able to go out there to perform a job. You will know the time they will arrive. While weather and traffic can delay a beekeeper’s arrival, our sale’s team will always let you know if anything about your job changes. Our beekeeper’s main focus is to perform the bee removal or wasp removal job, never to sell you anything else. Afterwards, our beekeepers will start going at the time you have agreed on, so you will need to prepare for their arrival. This bee removal preparation is not only for the beekeepers but it is mainly for your safety and the safety of others. Please make sure that dogs, children, and other adults are inside or away from the location of the bees or wasps. You will also need to make sure to alert neighbors or visiting people that there will be a bee removal job in place. Doing this type of preparation before the bee removal and staying away during the bee removal service will allow everyone to stay safe. Many times during our bee removal service, bees will become hostile as they attempt to protect their bee hive so they will attack anything that is close to the bee removal service. Even if you are a couple of feet away looking, bees will still attack you and chase you for a long time if you are not inside or in a closed area. Our main priorities during every bee removal service is to save the bees and make sure our customers are safe from any danger. If you’d like, you can interact with the beekeepers after the job to see the completion or ask for some delicious honey. Warning: there might still be some uncollected bees that will not be happy to see their beehive gone. Never try to dive in a situation without protective gear like our professional bee suits. Bee stings are no joke and can cause either an allergic reaction or death. Once the bee removal service is done, you will probably need to wait for the next morning to see trickling effects. However, there will still be stray bees that have wandered off to collect pollen that will see that their bee hive is no longer there so be careful of the bee removal service for a couple of days to see them gone.
Ever seen a paper wasp nest in your tree? Freak out when it was a basketball size and want to call a bee removal or wasp removal service? Well, that nest actually hosts the most docile species of all wasps.
Bee Removal or Wasp Removal?
When you have a Mexican Honey Wasp, you want to make sure you are safe before calling a bee removal or wasp removal service. While they are docile, Mexican Honey Wasps can still attack and you want to make sure you are safe. Call Bee Safe Bee Removal or your local beekeeper to take care of your bee removal situation.
Nests: Paper or Mexican Honey?
Mexican honey wasps are of the paper wasp family, but they are a bit different than their cousins, mostly different in their nest, colony size, and aggression. A paper wasp builds a nest out of chewed wood fiber into an upside-down umbrella shape, and a nest may host a couple dozen wasps when fully grown to a six- to eight-inch diameter. These nests commonly hang under eaves and may be found in sheds, garages, or any similarly protected area. A beekeeper doing a bee removal would have no problem spotting a Mexican Honey Wasp nest.
The Mexican honey wasp (nicknamed the Mexican bee), on the other hand, is the species to nest in your tree. Mexican bees will form a basketball- or football-sized nest (with similar material) in tree or shrub canopies to host upwards of 18,000 honey wasps! These wasps will keep their nest anywhere from three feet to 27 feet off the ground, so bee removals or wasp removals can be expensive depending on high they are.
Docile = Still Dangerous
Mexican honey wasps are quite docile–on wasp terms. If a nest is close to the ground or where children may come close, the nest needs to be dealt with a bee removal for the safety of those nearby. The same threat remains for workers or beekeepers who may contact or spray the tree.
Be sure to get professionals to do this bee removal. You will get stung. A lot. We at Bee Safe are much more equipped with our suits and tools to avoid injury during a bee removal. You will need professionals to do a bee removal or wasp removal for your safety for these large colonies.
Though, if the nest is high up in a tree and left alone, the wasps actually will mind their business and just forage as they do. They really are docile, but they will still defend their hive and brutally deter any perceivable threat. Make sure to check out where they are before calling for a bee removal service.
What Are These Mexican Bees, Exactly?
Firstly, you will be hard pressed to spot one. Mexican honey wasps are actually smaller than honey bees, standing at ¼ of an inch compared to a honey bee’s ½ inch length. However, a beekeeper doing a bee removal will have no problem spotting one.
These Mexican honey wasps are gatherers and pollinators (like honeybees), and they’re the only wasp species to produce honey, at that. Though, humans do not harvest this honey mostly due to the nature of the nest (and wasps are… less cooperative). Mexican bees also are predators like their wasp cousins, and they will hunt many harmful, garden pests. So, Mexican honey wasps have many benefits, being the best of a honeybee and wasp (though the wasp part is a deterrent towards favoring them over a honeybee). If you rather not deal with them, call Bee Safe Bee Removal to do a bee removal service.
It has often been said that bees are responsible for one out of every three bites of food we eat. Most crops are grown for their fruits, nuts, seeds, fiber, and hay, which require pollination by insects. Pollinating insects also play a critical role in maintaining natural plant communities and ensuring the production of seeds in most flowering plants. Pollination is the transfer of pollen from the male parts of a flower to the female parts of the same species, which results in the fertilization of plant ovaries and the production of seeds. The primary insect pollinators, by far, are bees. While European honey bees are the best known and widely managed pollinators, hundreds of other species of bees, primarily solitary ground-nesting species, contribute some level of pollination services to crops and are very important in natural plants communities.
Bees make excellent pollinators because most of their life is spent collecting pollen, a source of protein that they feed to their developing offspring. When a bee lands on a flower, the hairs all over the bees’ body attract pollen grains through electrostatic forces. Stiff hairs on their legs enable them to groom the pollen into specialized brushes or pockets on their legs or body and then carry it back to their nest. Individual bees tend to focus on one kind of flower at a time, which means it is more likely that pollen from one flower will be transferred to another flower of the same species by a particular bee. Many plants require this kind of pollen distribution, known as cross-pollination, to produce viable seeds. The business of collecting pollen involves a lot of energy, and so many flowers attract and reward bees with nectar, a mixture of water and sugars produced by plants.
Most bee species dig nests in soil, while others utilize plants, either by boring holes in pithy plant stems or wood or by nesting in galleries made by wood-boring beetles in trees or other preexisting cavities. Bumblebees are known to nest in abandoned rodent burrows, and feral honey bees are known to nest in tree hollows. Bees use a variety of materials to build their nests. Most bees line their nest cells with a waxy material they produce themselves, but others use pieces of leaves, small pebbles mixed with resin from tree sap, or mud to form the cells they lay their eggs.
Bee communities, both wild and managed, have been declining over the last half-century as pesticide use in agricultural and urban areas increased. Changes in land use have resulted in a patchy distribution of food and nesting resources. Concerned bee researchers recently met to discuss the current pollinator status in North America and to publish a report about it. Since 2007, there have been several reports in the media about the mysterious disappearance of large numbers of honey bees called colony collapse disorder. This has many growers concerned about how they will continue to be able to pollinate their crops. Now more than ever, it is critical to consider practices that will benefit pollinators by providing habitats free of pesticides, full of nectar and pollen resources, and ample potential nesting resources.
A honeybee’s life is quite full as they spend their days caring for their colony. Each day is full of purpose as queen bees upkeep colonies by laying upwards of 2,000 eggs a day (some rare cases speak of 3,000); drone bees actively seek to mate and pass their genes; and worker bees take care of the hive with responsibilities that evolve with age.
Today, we are going to focus on the life cycle and roles of a queen, worker bee, and drone in a healthy hive (we will save colony collapse scenarios for another day so this article may focus on the specifics of bee life cycles). The queen’s section will be split into four focal elements; the worker bee section will have a day-by-day evolution of responsibilities; and the drone will focus on their singular, significant importance. As a conclusion, we will address how urban beekeeping affects the bees’ lifestyles.
Over the next couple of minutes, you will get a walk through the life of all three castes of a bee: queen, worker, and drone. To give some perspective on their roles, we will first address their life expectancies.
A drone will live three to five weeks. A worker bee will live five to seven weeks in the summer; a winter worker bee can live up to six months, though (there is a difference in workload and biology). A queen generally lives three to six years.
A queen is the central role of a hive; she is the central signal that a hive revolves around. The queen produces pheromones (chemical substances secreted and detected by smell, in the case of honeybees) encoded with important messages and influences, such as making workers disinterested in mating. Overall, a queen’s pheromones maintain the hive by affecting the behavior of her colony.
Beyond her central signal of control, her primary purpose is to reproduce. The queen is the only bee who will reproduce in normal circumstances (the exception is a laying worker in a colony collapse scenario). To keep up with the needs of the hive, a queen will lay upwards of 2,000 eggs a day! This massive egg output compensates for the six-week life expectancy of a worker bee during the spring and summer months and the massive need for foraging and hive maintenance.
Largely, a queen spends her days solely laying eggs–being the literal life of the hive. Naturally, what comes next is questioning how? So, let’s talk about the nuptial/mating flight.
Flight of the Mating Bee
The birds and the bees.
A virgin queen bee will leave a hive for her mating flight as soon as five days after emerging from her cell. On a sunny afternoon with favorable weather conditions, she will then head to a drone congregation area two to three miles away to avoid mating with one of her brothers (drones only travel to local congregations). As she arrives, her pheromonal presence attracts drones hopeful to mate.
The congregation area is up to 650 feet across and 16 to 160 feet high; unlike other bees, honeybees actually do mate in mid air–and at heights higher than their usual flight height. During this mating flight, a virgin queen will mate with up to 50 drones, with a mating average of 12 drones.
A drone inserts its endophallus (genitalia connected to the abdomen) into the queen, with this romantic mating only lasting three to five seconds. After successfully mating, the drone attempts to fly away, but the endophallus remains in the queen; the lower half of the drone’s abdomen consequently is ripped, killing the drone. The endophallus is left behind, left as a “mating sign,” which the next drone will attempt to remove the endophallus to mate with the “virgin” queen.
The queen’s spermatheca stores between five and six million sperm for fertilization usage, taking multiple mating flights to fill such if necessary. The initial mating sperm will be used over the course of her life until a new queen is made to replace her (in which, the new queen may kill or spare the old queen, if she is still alive).
The queen has complete control over the gender of her eggs. As an egg passes through the ovary to the oviduct, the queen can choose to fertilize the egg with sperm or not. Fertilized eggs become female, worker bees (or queen bees, as discussed in “Royal Reproduction”); unfertilized eggs become male, drone bees.
After the egg is determined, the gender and caste determines its development time table. Drone bees need 24 days to grow from egg to adult; worker bees grow over 21 days; and queens become mature after only 16 days!
Workers bees also have control over the gender of the colony too, though. Workers carry the responsibility of making hive cells, and each kind of bee needs a specific size for its respective egg. Drone bees are much larger than a worker bee, so their egg cells need to accommodate their size; meanwhile, smaller cells are made for worker bees. The queen approaches cells of proper sizes to lay eggs in, therefore the workers influence the gender distribution of the next generation with their work.
The gender distribution becomes a game of balance between the actions of workers and the queen as they work together on the upkeep of the colony. The queen can force the gender she sees fit, and the workers work with her to shape the colony for what’s best for their survival.
Queen bees are an exception when it comes to their birth. The defining differences are that the other castes of bees are born in hive cells, fed royal jelly for the first three days, then fed pollen and nectar for the remainder of their larval state. Queens, on the other hand, grow in queen cells and are only fed royal jelly.
Let’s talk about what these differences imply. Firstly, a queen egg is a female, fertilized egg that is solely fed royal jelly throughout its entire larval state and life, instead of nectar and pollen. Now, what is royal jelly? Royal jelly is a protein-rich excretion from honey bees’ glands–the excretion is akin to milk from a mother, except the substance is more like white snot than milk.
Secondly, the queen cup is designed to raise a queen–either made when a queen bee is nearing her end (end of her life, or end of her reproductive usage) or when a colony becomes queenless. With a cup prepared, an egg will either be laid by a living queen or a fertile egg will be moved into the queen cup. Though, a fertile egg has to be younger than three days old to raise a proper queen.
Why? After three days, fertile larvae are fed the pollen and nectar mixture–which inhibits their ovary (so a queen avoids nectar and pollen like the plague); queens are determined more by the lack of pollen and nectar in their diet than by the pure diet of royal jelly. The queen’s ovary will grow to its limit as it develops in its larval state, and the queen will end up 1.5 the size of the other bee castes.
To touch on the queen cup’s design briefly, the cup will always be built vertically with the opening on the bottom, and the cup is designed to be built upon and lengthened for the queen’s elongated size. The cup is made out of wax that is produced by the honey bees’ wax glands, which the bees develop in the abdomen between 12 and 20 days old.
A Life’s Worker
The survival of a colony rests on the workers (aside from survival relying on a queen’s reproduction). Workers largely nurse the hive and forage for resources, filling key roles with designated tasks that evolve with age. Below, the exact responsibilities will be outlined with the age of a worker that performs the task.
As soon as a worker bee emerges from its larval state, she unconsciously detects the pheromones of the baby bees, and those pheromones kick in the worker’s instincts to nurse their younger sisters.
Days 1-2: Worker bees will start off responsible for cleaning the hive cells and keeping the brood warm.
All cells are kept clean and sterile before laying eggs or storing honey, and they are responsible for capping the brood cells and securing the larvae. These young bees are responsible for keeping the hive free of disease for the health of the colony.
This also includes getting rid of diseased or deceased larvae as quickly as possible, taking the carcass as far away from the hive as possible. In the event of a large carcass (like a rodent) stung to death inside the hive, the worker bees will simply cover the carcass with propolis–a sticky, antimicrobial substance collected from trees.
Days 3-5: Worker bees will feed older larvae.
Nursing bees will check on their larvae over a thousand times a day!
Older larvae, eight days before hatching, will be fed 10,000 times a day to satisfy their hunger and let them grow plump before emergence.
Days 6-11: Worker bees will feed younger larvae
Habits are similar to their younger nursing sisters feeding older larvae, but the younger larvae are not as hungry.
Days 12-17: Worker bees will produce wax, build combs, and transport food within the hive.
During this period, workers will develop wax glands (as previously mentioned). They will use these glands to produce beeswax, build combs, and support the hive’s structure. At this age, workers are also responsible for transporting food within the hive to various honey storing locations, organizing what their older sisters forage.
A worker has to consume eight kilograms of honey just to produce one kilogram of wax.
Days 18-21: Worker bees will guard the hive entrance.
At this age, her stinger will fully develop, and her duty shifts to guard the entrance. Guardians detect nearby intruders using their senses, primarily by smell. If an intruder gets too close and poses a threat, the guardians will rush to protect the entrance and sting any threat–doing so, as discussed in the Language of the Bees blog, will release a pheromone to signal the threat to nearby workers.
This pheromone signals other guardians to charge towards the target with the aim of stinging it to death; this pheromone alarm is a potent defense as the threat will receive numerous incoming stings, killing the threat if not deterring it first.
A worker bee can actually stab other insects or thin-skinned animals multiple times without dying (other bees, wasps, rodents, etc.). However, a bee can only sting an intruding, thick-skinned mammal once, dying as their stinger stays behind.
Days 22-End: Worker bees are now classified as field bees, instead of hive bees.
These field bees will travel to flowers and perform the key foraging efforts. Field bees are the ones to thank flower pollination; field bees are also the ones to collect pollen, nectar, propolis, and water in key foraging routines.
Worker bees have a general life expectancy of six weeks, with the range spreading between 35 and 45 days old.
Winter bees, classified as diutinus bees, are a bit different than their foraging season counterparts, though. As the temperature drops, the queen will halt all reproduction efforts, and the workers’ biology changes with this adjustment. The lack of pheromones from baby bees means a worker’s nursing instincts won’t kick in, so their biology adjusts to a long-living variant; the winter season demands less strain from a worker bee, so their bodies adjust to thrive and care for the queen for the duration of winter.
These diutinus bees will then be the first to fly out and forage as winter thaws, and the cycle starts all over with new six-week patterned bees being laid.
Drone: A Simple Importance
A male drone’s role is much simpler than the worker’s; a drone’s singular purpose is to mate. Only present in the spring and summer, a drone will emerge from his egg and continue to eat three times more than workers as he matures. After a week of maturing, he will start to become sexually active and begin to take flight. His first flights will last only 15 minutes as he simply loops around the hive to become oriented with the hive’s location.
Once oriented, a drone will fly to a drone congregation area on sunny afternoons–with a heavy preference of temperatures above 66 degrees Fahrenheit, no rain, and wind speeds less than 60 miles per hour.
He will spend 30 minutes or more at a time on a mating flight at a drone congregation area with many bachelors like him. If he is lucky and successful in mating with a queen, he will die in the process (see Flight of the Mating Bee), and his genetics will be passed on. If unsuccessful, he will simply keep trying as long as he lives, taking flight multiple times a day for every day he can.
While drones do not perform useful hive labor like their female counterparts (even lacking a stinger for hive defense), drones are considered crucial for the genetic diversity they bring in the mating process. Studies show that a colony’s chances of survival increases with the number of mates the queen had; genetics are the key factors in determining a colony’s size, temperament, and quality. Drones have the key responsibility and purpose to improve the survivability of bees abroad.
Important as they may be, a surplus of drones may stress a colony due to resource consumption–as they continue to consume three times as much as workers throughout their lives–so most hives limit the number of drones at a ratio of one drone for every 100 workers.
As the warmth gives way to sweater weather, any drone still alive will be kicked out of the hive and left to starve as the hive prepares to survive the cold. The hive cannot afford to support a drone’s diet during winter, so this banishment is for the greater survival of the colony. Besides, a drone cannot become diutinus, so he could not live for much longer either way.
Urban beekeepers make the best efforts to save the bees while encouraging their natural cycles to remain consistent. Our beekeepers, amongst others, create homes and make space for our buzzing buddies, especially with habitat loss being a major problem. In addition to providing a stable habitat, beekeepers will either create a feeding frame or grow plants to help with foraging efforts so our bees may have proper resources in our urban areas.
Another way urban beekeepers may help out the bees is by queen grafting. A practice we here at Bee Safe use, queen grafting is the technique of building queen cups and placing fertilized eggs inside. The bees are naturally led to build up a queen cell around the cup and properly raise queens. This technique is used to prepare queens in the scenario that a queen may disappear or die for various reasons; this queen grafting provides a saving grace for queenless colonies that would otherwise fall apart. Now, bees can save themselves if they have the resources; but, if they lack young, fertilized eggs, the colony would die off without our intervention.
Truly, not every beekeeper keeps their bees the same–some only check on their hive twice a year to leave the colony’s survival to nature. No matter what though, us beeks are making every effort to save bees out there by making homes in our urbananized world, and we could use your help doing so!
An easy step is to follow us on Instagram, TikTok, Facebook and YouTube @beesafebeeremoval. Every interaction helps get our content out there to actually make a difference. We hope to educate people to make way for truly saving the bees! Though, if you want to do more than interact with our content, feel free to DM us on Instagram or Facebook and ask about what you can do.
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.”
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).
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!
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).