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  1. If you’re a gardener (aren’t all beekeepers?) you’ll know a little about what biologists call the ‘stress induced flowering response’. As a lad some forty-something years ago I think I knew that, even if scientists have just got around to studying it in the last decade. You know, stop watering whatever it is, or provide a bit of a temperature shock, and it’ll burst into flower. We already knew that right? We suppose plants can survive as a species if they flower and produce seeds, producing the next generation although they themselves cannot adapt to unfavourable environmental conditions. The
    5 points
  2. Propolis is a mysterious material, not so much a thing bees produce but literally a collection of ‘things’ they use. Beekeepers view it as a bit of a nuisance and frequently selectively breed honeybees that use as little as possible. In some respects, that’s not a good idea. Apis, euglossine, meliponine, and megachilid bees, and, occasionally, other social insects, all use a kind of propolis to a greater or lesser extent, which in its simplest description consists of plant resins mixed with wax (propolis and cerumen) or mixed with clay or sand soils (geopropolis or batumen). There
    4 points
  3. It’s a complicated thing. There are plants that do not require pollination of any kind to produce fruit and seeds. There are some that require the stimulus of pollination, but not actual fertilisation, to fruit. Where pollination is required a plant may use pollen that it has produced (in the same or a different flower), or may have to use pollen from another, distant, plant of the same species. Unfortunately too, there are plants that have a bet each way, both ‘cross-pollinating’ and ‘self-pollinating’. Pollen is passively dispersed by currents of air and water but animals can be
    4 points
  4. It’s hard to find a paper or article these days that doesn’t begin with a reference to “Declines in the number of global pollinator insects” or some other form of the bee or insect ‘apocalypse’ sentiment and the potential economic or ecological damage to be wrought. While one reaction to this is to prevent or mitigate the circumstances that cause it, finding alternatives to natural biotic pollination is another one to consider. At times there are clear reasons why forms of ‘artificial’ pollination are valuable, but the cost of harvesting pollen to use, and the manual or mechanical means to del
    3 points
  5. Anaphylaxis (an-a-fi-LAK-sis) is a serious allergic response that often involves swelling, hives, lowered blood pressure and in severe cases, shock. If anaphylactic shock isn't treated immediately, it can be fatal. A major difference between anaphylaxis and other allergic reactions is that anaphylaxis typically involves more than one system of the body. Symptoms usually start within 5 to 30 minutes of coming into contact with an allergen to which an individual is allergic. In some cases, however, it may take more than an hour to notice anaphylactic symptoms.
    2 points
  6. Everyone knows honeybee females (queens) mate at the beginning of their adult life and are then unable to mate again. A queen mates with many males (drones), often on a single occasion but sometimes after multiple flights in successive days. The mating is very quick, not more than 5 seconds and perhaps no more than one or two seconds, after which the male is paralysed and dies. Competition between males in a mating congregation occurs, mostly as a result of size and power, and some selection operates seemingly on the basis of flight altitude, different strains favouring different h
    1 point
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