Monday, May 15, 2006

bee season

Whether you like your bee stories anthropomorphicized
If the colony were preparing an emergency queen, she would hatch as soon as possible. The virgin queen who bursts from her cell first rests a moment. Then amid the buzz and the hum of the hive a sound enraptures her. It is a sound like the quack of a duck, the piping of another virgin. It awakens a royal bloodlust and she quickly searches out her rivals. To find them, she pips, a sound produced by vibrating against the wax. Instinct demands of the unhatched queens that they pip back, playing a deadly game of marco polo with their soon to be murderer. She rips into their cells from the side so that they are helpless, turning their wax beds into wax tombs. With the time of her birth the princess claims her queen right. With the blood of her sisters she seals it. The workers will drag their bodies from the hive and cast them aside.
or you like them all scientific-like
The dancing bees, half a dozen, were rotating in place, counter-clockwise on the surface of the swarm, pausing at the same spot in each circuit to execute an exaggerated abdominal waggle. A score of other bees followed each one intently, pushing forward, nudging their heads close to the dancer's rear, "reading" the dance by sticking their antennae into the space directly behind the dancer's wings. "That's where they can best perceive the sound of the wings' vibration," Camazine said. "They need to follow several circuits in order to get the message." Dancers signal the direction of a site by the way they face when they waggle, he went on, orienting themselves by the sun if they can see it, or by gravity if they are in shade. They indicate distance by the alacrity of their circuits: fast means a site is nearby; slow means it's farther away. The bees dancing now were facing about 5:00 from the position of the sun — roughly the direction of the north box, by Camazine's calculation — but their circuits were relatively slow, each requiring about three seconds to complete. "They're probably dancing for a site in those mountains over there," Camazine said, pointing. Then he culled these "rogues," plucking them off the swarm with thumb and forefinger and dunking them through the plastic lid of a Del Taco soft-drink cup. "We don't want them to interfere with what we're trying to look at," he said.


I sure do like beeses.


(bee beard photo taken from second article, published at PSU's Research magazine.
bee photo taken by David Cappaert. It is for sale here.)

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