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DO YOU KNOW BEES SAY “WHOOPS” WHEN THEY BUMP INTO EACH OTHER!
Interestingly this article was stimulated by a recent question on the “Q.I.” programme on t.v.
Researchers used to think that the “Whoops” sound was made as a ‘stop/’ signal only but recently researchers have found that honeybees do actually produce a “whoop” sound when they bump into each other, the noise might just be conveying surprise as we might say “Oops!” they make a sound that goes “Whoops!” Not too dissimilar is it?. Bees produce the sound with their wing muscles to create the vibrational pulse. One of the research team, physicist Martin Bencsik from Nottingham Trent University in the UK. said, "We have found that this signal is remarkably common, much more than previously thought."
It's well known that honeybees communicate through vibrational signals, but why the bees actually make them has been up for debate. Way back in the 1950’s, scientists suggested that the vibration signal was used as a request for food, as they observed that the noise was often followed by the bees exchanging meals. Later, researchers also noticed that the noise was used to inhibit another bee from performing a waggle dance – a form of communication used to tell other bees where to go to forage. The stopping of this waggle dance suggest that it worked as a 'stop signal' for some reason better known to the bee itself.
But new research suggests that the way the bees were investigated in those past studies was flawed, and the signal is more common than we thought. "Scientists in the past have explored this signal in artificial circumstances where they ensured that the bees under investigation would be trying to inhibit other bees," said Bencsik.
He also went on to explain, “In our latest research studies, we have not manipulated our bees in any way, and this has revealed totally unexpected results, yielding new interpretations but also yet more mystery around this brief honeybee vibrational pulse." The team placed accelerometers into the centre of two hives in the UK and in France to record bee noises that are inaudible to the human ear. The vibrations were recorded for a year, and computer software scanned the recordings for the vibration "whooping" noise. He goes on to say "We believe that in only a small number of instances is it used as an inhibitory signal and therefore have proposed a new name – the 'whooping' signal."
The team found that the accelerometer would pick up six or seven "whoops" a minute, and from a very small area in the honeycomb. "There's no way a bee was trying to inhibit another one that frequently, and there's no way a bee would request food that frequently," Bencsik told Sam Wong at New Scientist.
When the researchers also placed cameras inside the hive, they noticed that it happened most when the bees bumped into each other, but it also happened if the hive was knocked or shaken. "We suggest that, in the majority of instances, it is bees being startled that produce the signal," says Bencsik. In other words the bees are doing the bee equivalent of a surprised gasp – and it makes these adorable noises even better!
But the researchers aren't done yet – the team is now investigating if stressed colonies whoop more than unstressed colonies. "It shows promise that our methods can be used as a sensitive way of monitoring and assessing colony status for these hugely important pollinators," said one of the researchers, Michael Ramsey.
Considering researchers are looking at Black Mirror - style bee drones to replace the real thing, we'll take anything to help the current population. See :- http://www.sciencealert.com/the-world-s-first-pollinating-drone-could-be-the-answer-to-the-bee-pocalypse
We certainly don't want to lose those cute "whoops" if robot drones become the norm.
Article by Graham Robinson
With thanks to Jacinta Bowler; The Daily Mail; The New Scientist; Science Alert; Phys.org/news;
Video of an European Hornet lunching on a honeybee (hit the forward arrow)
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- 4. Sep, 2016
A TIP THAT COULD HELP YOU IF YOU ARE STUNG
I thought I had better pass this tip about bee stings on to you.
A couple of weeks ago a friend of mine ( a non beekeeper) got stung on his forehead while he was near my hives. My son said go and put some TCP on the sting telling him there was some in our bathroom cabinet. We always use TCP for stings and, our friend rushed into my home only to find my wife was taking a bath and he couldn't get to the TCP !
Instead he went into our separate loo and seeing no TCP but spotted some toothpaste on the sink shelf, he squeezed some onto his finger and applied it to the sting. He reported that within minutes the pain had gone. When I was told of this I thought "Yeh right!" this can't be true and thought my friend was just being macho and pretending the toothpaste had worked while quietly suffering from the sting.
Today while painting a fence by my hives, I was stung twice once on my neck and once under my eye. I decided to try the toothpaste treatment and low and behold it worked ! The pain of the sting dissipated totally over the next ten minutes. All that was left were two white spots of dried toothpaste which easily washed off.
All I can say in conclusion , why not try toothpaste on your next sting? If it doesn't work for you then go back to using your own treatment or, try TCP which I can guarantee does work and it also sterilises the sting site as bees have dirty feet.
Graham Robinson - Editor
- 4. Sep, 2016