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RoboBees to mimic honey bee flight behavior!!!

Alarming losses of honey bee colonies are being witnessed these days from world over. USA lost 50% of its colonis while situation is alarming in EU and other countries too. Honey bees are commercial pollinators of most of the crops and in the event of their loss, agriculture production will be severely reduced.

Robert Wood, Radhika Nagpal, Gu-Yeon Wei and Ben Fino, Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Science and Northeastern University, took the challenge to create a robotic bee colony.

The flying robots named “RoboBees” are nickel sized robots that mimic the flight behavior of actual honey bees. RoboBees were able to fly in all direction as bees. They also developed their mass production technology.

Though these RoboBees are far away from simulating a true honey bee colony but it is a step forward in this direction.

Most commonly used insecticide IMIDACLOPRID even at sublethal doses cause abnormal foraging behavior in honey bees.

There is now a mounting evidence that most widely used insecticide group in the world NEONICOTINOIDS, namely IMIDACLOPRID is directly linked to huge colony losses reported in the USA and Europe.

Yang et al. from Taiwan reported their results in Journal of Economic Entomology. They demonstrated the ill effects of imidacloprid on honey bees even at far lesser doses than the recommended ones. They found that at recommended doses, it causes severe losses of honey bees and other pollinators besides killing the target insect pest. But it has been demonstrated now that even at sublethal doses (doses at far lesser amount than recommend doses that does not kill replica breitling girard perregaux complications target pest) it affects honey bee, Apis mellifera behavior. In general a honeybee forager revisits the food source after about 5 minutes but when this source was contaminated by a very low concentration of imidacloprid (50 μg/liter) they delayed their return visit by more than 5 minutes. But at higher concentration of 1,200 μg/liter, great abnormalities in revisiting the feeding site were recorded. Some of the bees were altogether lost while some delayed their return by next day.


IMPORTANT:

IMIDACLOPRID IS BEING WIDELY USED IN INDIA ON MANY CROPS INCLUDING CEREALS, PULSES, OILSEEDS, COTTON, VEGETABLES, FRUITS, ETC. AND MAY BE RESPONSIBLE FOR SUCH BEHAVIOUR OR LOSSES IN INDIA TOO. THIS MATTER NEEDS TO BE INVESTIGATED IN INDIA BY THE INDIAN COUNCIL OF AGRICULTURAL RESEARCH AND STATE AGRICULTURAL UNIVERSITIES.

INSECTICIDES USD TO KILL INSECTS ARE ALSO KILLING HONEY BEE LARVAE

In a new research funded by National Honey Board of USA and US Department of Agriculture, the scientists lead by Jim Frazier of Penn State University discovered that most commonly used insecticides chlorpyrifos, fluvalinate and coumaphos and fungicide chlorothalonil when applied on the crops despite killing the target insects, also kill honey bee larvae in the hives.

How the pesticides enter the hive is important to understand. Forager honey bees while foraging on crops bring back with them an average of 6 different pesticides on the pollen loads they are collecting. Once deposited in the cells in the hive, nurse bees feed this pollen to the honey bee larvae as “bee bread”. These pesticides alone and in mixtures either directly kill the larvae or indirectly kill them by disrupting the beneficial fungi essential for nurse bees to process the pollen to bee bread. Exposure to pesticides during early stages directly kill the bees and affect their survival and development.

AUSTRALIA-WORST SEASON

In an article written by Dr. Reese Halter, the intense heat waves during 2014 (it is summer is Australia now) caused extensive drought. It has proved disastrous to the honey bees as their hives have melted and honey production may reduce by half.

Honey bees in Australia generate $ 6 billion and pollinate 70% of food crops. Australia is famous for over 700 species of eucalyptus (including most famous red gum variety) that produce 30,000 metric tons of honey worth $ 150 million.

As a consequence of heat waves, plants are lowering their nectar production. With less nectar available, honey bee colonies are on “emergency mode” and even their honeycombs are melting. Bees are now searching more for water to maintain colony temperature. This much energy sapping process result in lower honey stores and eventually more feeding expenses for the beekeepers when it used to be the most productive season.

HONEY BEES ARE GUIDED TO THE HONEY SOURCE BY POLARIZED LIGHTS

Professor Mandyam Srinivasan of University of Queensland, Australia have demonstrated that honey bees are using the pattern of polarized light in the sky which is invisible to human eyes to communicate and direct other members of the colony to a honey source. Honey bees navigate by reading the pattern of polarized light in the sky.