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Entries in honey bees (4)


'More Than Honey' Bee Documentary Focuses On Sex Lives of Queen Bee Where More Is Better

via Scientific American

A male honey bee is essentially a winged penis doomed to die immediately after losing his virginity. On summer afternoons, male bees—known as drones—emerge from many different hives and gather in a small swarm. No one is sure exactly how drones pick their “congregation areas” or why they are often in exactly the same place year after year, but the answer likely has something to do with fragrant chemical messages known as pheromones. The drones wait for a virgin queen from a nearby colony to make an appearance and compete for the chance to mate with her mid-flight, crashing into one another as they race after her alluring perfume. If a drone is successful, the act of copulation rips his penis and entrails from his abdomen, so he falls to the ground and dies. The queen mates with as many as 20 drones in a single flight and stores millions of their sperm in an internal pouch called a spermatheca—sufficient supplies for a lifetime of egg-laying.

Imagining what a mating flight might look like is all well and good; watching it happen as though you were a drone flying alongside the queen is so much better. The fascinating and gorgeous new documentary “More Than Honey” offers just such a bee’s-eye view.

In America, current estimates suggest that a total of 1.5 million out of a total of 2.4 million behives have disappeared across 27 states. In Germany one-fourth of bee colonies are gone. This global phenomenon is called “colony collapse”, and it is s source of grave concern. Without bees, there is no pollinization of our food supply. 80% of plant species require bees to be pollinated.

It appears doubtful that a single pestiside or parasite is responsible for the colony collapse of the world’s honeybees. Rather, a combination of modern-world forces seems likely to killing our honey bees.

Fifty years ago, Albert Einstein said:

“If bees were to disappear from the globe, mankind would only have four years left to live.”

French Roast News

Anne is reading …

Washington State University is at work to develop the first sperm bank for honeybees. Entomologist Steve Sheppard and his team are using liquid nitrogen to preserve semen extracted from males, with the goal of preventing subspecies from becoming extinct.

Honeybees are serious business in America. Washington’s $1 billion apple crop, for instance, needs 250,000 colonies of bees each year to pollinate the orchards. California almond growers need 1 million colonies per year to pollinate their crop.

Sheppard is also working to create smarter, stronger bees with a focus on three subspecies for import into the US. These three prized subspecies come from Italy, the eastern Alps and the Georgia’s mountains.

The Italian bees, for instance, are prized because they reproduce quickly and provide maximum pollination for early-blooming crops like almonds, Sheppard said. By contrast, beekeepers in colder climates want bees that delay reproducing, so a late cold snap does not kill an entire brood, he said. That’s where the bees from the Alps and Georgia are valuable.

Queen Bees With Many Mates

A new study highlights the importance of genetic diversity in honey bee colonies as key to their survival. More mates is better for the queen bee.

Previously, scientists knew that genetic diversity affected survival under controlled conditions. Dr. David Tarpy, an associate professor of entomology at North Carolina State University and lead author of a paper describing the study, took genetic samples from 80 commercial colonies of eastern US honey bees.

Studying the genetic samples allowed researchers to determine the number of males a colony’s queen has mated with.

In those colonies where the queen had mated at least seven times, the survival rates were 2.86 times more likely to survive the 10-month working season. Among those colonies, 48 percent survived to the end of the season — still an alarmingly low level. By contrast, only 17 percent of the less genetically diverse colonies survived.

In 2012 scientists at Indiana University also found that greater diversity in worker bees leads to colonies with “fewer pathogens and more abundant helpful bacteria like probiotic species.” Researchers Irene L.G.Newton and Heather Mattila’s work confirms that the genetic diversity created in a colony where a queen mates with many male bees improves colony health and productivity.

Omo Valley Honey Bees

Anne of Carversville and Glam Tribale jewelry and gifts are studying the Omo Valley peoples living in southern Ethiopia. Regarded as the cradle of human civilization, the Omo Valley tribes are under assault — much as the global honey bee population is threatened. Two Omo Valley tribes—  the Mursi and Surma — who are associated with extensive body decoration and covering their bodies with plants and vegetation inspire us daily.

Anne incorporated a visual of Sarah Burton’s spring Alexander McQueen collection honoring honey bees and the Queen Bee in particular — into our new outdoor Saturday market at Philadelphia PHAIR. Photographer Eric Tourneret — The Bee Photographer — has lensed ‘The honey tribes of the Omo Valley, Ethiopia’.

Will Sarah Burton’s Queen Bee Femme Fatales Suffer in Collapse of Global Honey Bee Populations? (Follow link to live links on all these articles in photo.)

Queen of the Sun: Whar Are the Bees Telling Us



Will Sarah Burton's Queen Bee Femme Fatales Suffer in Collapse of Global Honey Bee Populations?

Sarah Burton’s Queen Bee World of Alexander McQueen S/S 2013 (left)

Manon Leloup Is A Queen Bee in David Sims’ Alexander McQueen S/S 2013 Campaign (right)

Sarah Burton’s Queen Bee World of Alexander McQueen Spring Summer 2013 AOC GlamTribale

In a refreshing take on “femme fatales”, conceived in Britain which is deep in diagnosing reasons for the global collapse of honeybees, Burton created a deeply sensual theme of female empowerment, control, rigorous architecture, sex and nature dedicated to — Queen Bees. 

Sarah Burton’s honey bee collection for Alexander McQueen is a splendid example for us to show readers how a wide variety of Smart Sensuality issues and concerns link together at AOC. 

Anne is reading …

Heidi Herrmann’s bees live in colorful, artistic houses.

Why ‘natural’ beekeeping could save our honey-making friends The Telegraph

Wild honeybees face extinction in the UK, with a 53 percent decline in managed honeybee colony numbers from 1985-2005. The conservative Telegraph writes:

Parasites and disease, climate change and air pollution all have an impact on bee health, but perhaps the most serious of all is the impact of pesticides.

The answer, says writer Jean Vernon, may like with natural beekeepers like Heidi Herrmann, trustee and co-founder of the Natural Beekeeping Trust. Heidi marches to her own drummer, when the topic is bees. 

Now approaching folk heroine status in some beekeeping circles, Heidi has sometimes been described as a shamanic beekeeper. This witch doctor image doesn’t endear her to some traditionalists, but has inspired beekeepers across the world. Today she gives talks and runs workshops for like-minded enthusiasts.

“Bee colonies have very distinct personalities, and I suspect that attributing these differences to the genetics of the queen bee is a little simplistic,” she says. “There is much more involved; grasping the subtle characteristics of a particular colony requires us to make sustained efforts in observation, and to let go of our habitual cause-and-effect thinking.”

Heidi Herrmann shares a view on declining bee populations that offers a new perspective. The naturalist believes that swarm suppression — a universal technique employed by most conventional beekeepers to prevent bees from leaving the hive and taking honey with them — is deadly for bee populations. 

Heidi’s hive was spotted in a documentary film called ‘The Queen of the Sun’ (see below).

A chance encounter with the film’s producer put them in contact with its creator, Guenther Mancke, a German sculptor and master beekeeper. His sun hive is a womblike object that mimics a natural colony.

European Agency Says Insecticides a Threat to Honey Bees WSJ 1/16/13

European authorities have identified three neonicotinoids or insecticides long believed to contribute to plunging honey bee populations and demanded far tougher scrutiny of their use. The European Food Safety Authority decision that “high acute risk” exists to honey bees when these insecticides are applied to cereals, cotton rapeseed, corn and sunflowers. 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which regulates pesticides, says it is unaware of any data showing that neonicotinoids have contributed to the collapse of bee colonies. Researchers at the U.S. Department of Agriculture are examining the issue, but the department says it has found no evidence linking use of the pesticides to mass bee deaths.

Queen Bee Brain Power

Bees Can ‘Turn Back Time,’ Reverse Brain Aging Science Daily 7/3/12

Researchers at Arizona State University have determined that tricking older, foraging bees into doing social tasks inside the nest result in positive changes in the molecular structure of their brains. 

During experiments, scientists removed all of the younger nurse bees from the nest — leaving only the queen and babies. When the older, foraging bees returned to the nest, activity diminished for several days. Then, some of the old bees returned to searching for food, while others cared for the nest and larvae. Researchers discovered that after 10 days, about 50 percent of the older bees caring for the nest and larvae had significantly improved their ability to learn new things.

Social Queen Bees Have Bigger Brain Power for Learning, Memory 2/23/2011

The ‘social brain hypothesis’, known also as the ‘Machiavelli hypothesis’, is based on the idea that to maintain power and control in groups, you need people with big brains. It assumes that leaders will have big brains capable of adeptly processing multiple initiatives simultaneously with effective results.

While researchers have studied brain sizes in animals for years, it’s been difficult to make direct connections between brain size and sociality. A May 2010 study on social bee queens gave interesting insights into the ‘social brain hypothesis’.

Megalopta bees exhibit one of two types of social behavior, writes Science Daily

Either a bee lives as a solitary queen, going out from her nest to forage for her own food or she can be a social queen—a stay-at-home mom. In that case, one of her daughters goes out to forage for her, so she rarely leaves the nest. Her daughter’s ovaries don’t develop, and she never leaves her mother to become a queen.

The brains of the social queens were identical in size to the solitary queens, but the area associated with learning and memory — the mushroom body — was bigger and more complex in the social queens. Just being in charge and directing from home base impacted brain complexity in a simple mother/daughter bee relationship.

Plunging Bee Populations Affect 70 Percent of Global Food Supply AOC Green

Monsanto may sound as if it has the global food supply under control, but that’s a delusion.  The UN report warns that of the 100 crop species that produce 90 percent of the world’s food, more than 70 are pollinated by bees.

“Human beings have fabricated the illusion that in the 21st century they have the technological prowess to be independent of nature,” said Achim Steiner, the executive director of the U.N.’s environmental program. “Bees underline the reality that we are more, not less dependent on nature’s services in a world of close to 7 billion people.”

The bee report, ‘Global Bee Colony Disorders and other Threats to Insect Pollinators’, concludes that bees are early warning indicators of the health of animal and plant life. Multiple factors ranging from insecticides that damage a bee’s memory to climate change are causing the dramatic declines in global bee populations. via UPI

Bee Brain Magic

Dementia Reversed in Half of Bee Brains By Changing Social Tasks AOC Green 3/23/11

Norwegian scientist Gro Amdam believes she is bringing hope to people with dementia. Professor Amdam is a expert in studying bee brains, whose brain cells are surprisingly similar to humans. When she makes a discovery about bee brains, the chances of her research being applicable to humans is high.

Bee Brains Learn Which Smells Will Deliver the Sweets AOC Green 2/28/12

Nectar-collecting bees were caught and sent to a lab where they were exposed to five difference artificial fragrances. Next the bees entered a learning phase, where one of the odors was always followed by an offering of a drop of sugar solution.

Further research confirmed that during the conditioning phase of the experiment, the learning neurons in the bee brain remained quiet. But three hours after learning, more neurons fired up confirming to researchers that they had actually found the long-term memory learning part of the bee brain.

With Tiny Brains, Bumblebees Solve Complex Flower Routing Math AOC Green 10/25/12

Scientists at Royal Holloway, University of London and Queen Mary, have discovered that bumblebees can find the solution to a complex mathematical problem that keeps computers busy for days. Bumblebees may look like they’re darting around, flirting with one flower after another. In reality, bees are effectively solving the ‘Travelling Salesman Problem’, and they are the first known animals to do so.

Bees Able to Distinguish Human Faces  AOC Green 2/9/12

The bees were shown five pairs of different images, where one image was always a face and the other a pattern of dots and dashes. Bees were always rewarded with sugar when they visited the face while nothing was offered by the non-face pattern. Having trained the bees that ‘face-like’ images gave them a reward, scientists next showed the bees a completely fresh pair of images that they had not seen before to see if the bees could pick out the face-like picture. Remarkably they did. The bees were able to learn the face images, not because they know what a face is but because they had learned the relative arrangement and order of the features.

Queen of the Sun Documentary


The World Observes Earth Hour | Eliot Spitzer Replaces Olbermann | Contraception & Women's Earnings

Daily French Roast

Anne is reading …

Keith Olbermann Fired!

Current TV would never have Anne at 8pm, because she has never been a fan of Keith Olbermann’s style of journalism. Disliking Olbermann so much, we never knew that Jennifer Granholm had a show after the loudmouth, confrontational guy who can’t seem to get along with anyone on TV.

In an accidental interception last night, we had the pleasure of watching former New York Governor/former CNN show anchor Eliot Spitzer, who replaced the fired Olbermann Friday night in his new home on Current TV. Learning about Granholm is a real problem for we who actually own the url

It appears that Olbermann has had nothing but problems with Current’s low-rent startup culture.

Current TV founders Al Gore and Joel Hyatt said in a letter to viewers that they decided to cut bait because the relationship no longer represented “the values of respect, openness, collegiality, and loyalty to our viewers.” via Washington Post

Eliot Spitzer is one of the finest minds on television. Anne was truly bereft when his information-rich CNN shoe ‘In the Arena’ was cancelled. Sorry Ed Show, we’re outta here.

As for Olbermann, The Hollywood Reporter reports that Olbermann is scheduled to appear on ‘The Late Show with David Letterman’ Tuesday, April 3.

More DFR

Mitt Romney Secretly Supported Anti-Gay-Marriage Group The Daily Beast

Mitt Romney Was A Mormon Bishop Before He Became A Politician Huffington Post

Political ‘Science”: The Ongoing Battle Over Emergency Contraception RH Reality Check

For Asian-American Couples, a Tie That Binds New York Times

How Access to the Pill Boosted Women’s Wages Live Science

“As the pill provided younger women the expectation of greater control over childbearing, women invested more in their human capital and careers,” study researcher Martha Bailey, an economist at the University of Michigan, said in a statement. “Most affected were women with some college, who benefitted from these investments through remarkable wage gains over their lifetimes.”

More DFR

Earth Hour

The year’s Earth Hour will be the largest ever, with 5,411 cities and towns, and 147 countries taking part. Earth Hour, the environmentally symbolic annual switch-off of lights for one hour this Saturday night, is to extend into space this year, with the International Space Station taking part for the first time, writes The Guardian.

Launched in 2007 only in Sydney, initially as an energy-saving measure, the hour has spread internationally and become a symbolic event to encourage environmental action and awareness. It is a rolling hour at 8.30-9.30pm across the world on 31 March. Despite the event’s high profile, it has also drawn criticism, including from green campaigners. George Marshall, founder of the Climate Outreach Information Network, has previously written in the Guardian that it sends out the wrong message. “Asking people to sit in the dark plays very well to a widely held prejudice that “the greens” want us all to go back to living in caves,” he said.

Hundreds gather to mark Earth Hour across country

ReutersClimate Change Comes to GM

Atlantic Wire reports that General Motors has pulled its $15,000 annual funding from the climate-change-skeptical Heartland Institute. The gesture is largely symbolic given the institute’s multiple billions, writes The Guardian. Former vice-chairman Bob Lutz once called the scientific arguments around climate change “a total crock of shit.”

To clarify, The Guardian writes that the GM donation of 20 years wasn’t earmarked for advocacy against climate change. But the connections have become too complex to explain to the general public.

Pesticides & Bees

Scientists have discovered ways in which even low doses of widely-used pesticides can harm bumblebees and honeybees. The pesticides interfere with the bees’ homing abilities, causing them to lose their way reports Reuters.

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Megan Fox | Alexei Hay | Jalouse April 2012

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Tara, Emma, John, Tracy, Jr, Xan & Eleanore | Bjarne Jonasson | Jalouse April 2012 | Cry Baby

Mason Poole | Jalouse April 2012 | Decades

Ina Jang | Jalouse April 2012 | Object Femme

Hannah Holman | Simon Burstall | Elle France March 2012 | Pop Power Part 1

Beegee Margenyte | Giuseppe Gasparin | iO Donna March 2012 | Bella (s)Coperta

Chloe Lecareux | Gregor Collienne | Elle Belgique April 2012 | Fashion Police

Tiiu Kuik | Alexo Wandael | Amica April 2012 | ‘Gamour on the Road’

Katie Fogarty | Jason Kim | Blackbook April/May 2012 | ‘Tattooed Lady

Candice Swanepoel | Terry Richardson | GQ UK May 2012

Hailey Clauson | Horst Diekgerdes | Vogue Germany March 2012

Auguste Abeliunaite | Hunter & Gatti | Vogue Spain April 2012

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Saskia de Brauw | Patrick Demarchelier | Vogue Japan May 2012 | The Mermaid’s Holiday

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