London museum unveils nitrogen-absorbing sculpture for bees

Image of woman with sculpture.

(The Art Newspaper) The sculpture is able to absorb up to 15% of her own weight in nitrogen dioxide molecules. When it rains, the absorbed toxins are washed away as a harmless liquid, enabling the continuous ingestion of pollution from the surrounding air. Nitrogen dioxide can mask the scent of flowers, thus preventing bees from finding their food.

Nectar robbery by short-tongued bees is throwing off delicate pollination cycles

Close up image of plaster bee.

(Massive Science) Bees have evolved to become extremely successful pollinators, and generally have a mutually beneficial relationship with plants. But nectar-robbing is a behavior in which an insect lightly bites a small hole in the a flower’s tissues at the base of the petal to access nectar, without performing the act of pollination. It can have a profound impact on a plant’s ability to reproduce.

Even bees argue over where to get dinner

Image of honey bee being held by fingers.

(Arizona State University) There’s a learning behavior called latent inhibition. It screens out irrelevant stimuli, allowing the mind to focus on the most pressing and practical issues. If you’ve ignored emails to get a report in on deadline, you’re familiar with it. Honey bees with high latent inhibition forage at the same trusted spots, day in and day out. Low latent inhibition bees learn new and familiar food locations equally well. What happens in the bee world in a mixed colony? Who wins out?

A honey bee’s tongue is more Swiss Army knife than ladle

Image of honey bee drinking nectar in experimental setting.

(New York Times) For a century, scientists have known how honey bees drink nectar: They lap it up. Now scientists have discovered bees can also suck nectar, which is more efficient when the sugar content is lower and the nectar is less viscous. And not only do honey bees have this unexpected ability, but they can go back and forth from one drinking mode to another.

Bees forage less efficiently in high winds

Image of beekeeper looking at artificial flowers with honey bees.

(The Guardian) A controlled experiment reveals how high wind speeds can significantly reduce the efficiency of foraging honey bees. With no wind, the bees on average took nectar from 5.45 flowers during their 90-second time trial. When wind speeds were increased, this fell to an average of 3.73 flowers. Over the course of a day, a bee’s capacity to supply its colony with food would be significantly curtailed.