New bee hives added for UGA veterinary training

Image of veterinarians with honey bees.

(Athens Banner-Herald) Scientists have long known two facts about the world’s bee population: pollinating bees are vital contributors to healthy crops and a thriving ecosystem, and many bee species are under threat of extinction from pollution, disease and other factors. The University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine has joined the fight to save the bees by building a set of hives on campus. The new program will give residents and senior veterinary students in clinical training experience caring for these insects.

Honey bees can’t practice social distancing, so they stay healthy in close quarters by working together

Image inside a honey bee hive.

(The Conversation) “As behavioral ecologists who have studied social interactions in honey bees, we see parallels between life in the hive and efforts to manage COVID-19 in densely populated settings. Although honey bees live in conditions that aren’t conducive to social distancing, they have developed unique ways to deal with disease by collectively working to keep the colony healthy.”

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.

This rare, mutant honeybee is both male and female

Image of gynandromorph honey bee.

(National Geographic) While checking his hives this June, a master beekeeper discovered something highly unusual. Whereas all the other honeybees in the hive had normal black eyes, one insect sported a pair of creamy yellow peepers that were impossible to miss. And that wasn’t all. When the beekeeper looked closer, he realized that not only were the bee’s eyes off-color, but they were abnormally large. In fact, they looked like the radar-dish eyes typical of male honeybees, or drones, despite the fact that the rest of the bee—the abdomen, stinger, and wings—were clearly female.

Conservation groups petition Forest Service to stop rubber-stamping commercial beehives on federal lands

Image of honey bee colonies in field.

(Center for Biological Diversity) Conservation groups filed a formal legal petition today urging the U.S. Forest Service to stop allowing the placement of hundreds of commercial honey bee hives on national forest lands without proper environmental review. Honey bees, which are not native to the United States, are important agricultural crop pollinators but have been shown to transmit diseases to native bees. They can also outcompete native bees for pollen and nectar, their only source of food. Yet, over the past decade, the Forest Service has approved permits for at least 900 hives, which could house up to 56 million honey bees on Forest Service lands on the Colorado Plateau alone. A request is pending for an additional 4,900 hives on just one national forest in Utah.

Bee shortage in Australia threatens crop pollination after back-to-back dry wet seasons

Image of beekeeper holding frame.

(ABC NEWS) Bee numbers in Australia’s Northern Territory are dwindling after back-to-back dry wet seasons, to the point that beekeepers cannot satisfy demand for honey and crucial pollination services. The lower rainfall caused many native Top End trees and plants to produce much less nectar, on which healthy bee populations depend.