Bees stop short during the total eclipse, studies find

For a few minutes during the total eclipse last year, a small creature stopped being bees – bees.

In a study published this week in the journal Annals of the Entomological Society of America, biologists discovered bees – namely honey and bumblebees pollinating during the day, according to Scientific American – fell silent for a few moments during the totality when the moon blocked briefly the sun.

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With the help of more than 400 volunteers, including elementary school students and teachers, scientists placed small microphones in pollinated areas on the road to totality in Missouri, Oregon and Idaho. The microphones are "as far away as possible from foot and vehicle traffic," researchers wrote in the report.

During most of the total solar eclipse in August 2017, the bees hummed and kept working. But then, for a short while, as the manslaughter hit and the darkness overcame, the bees stopped.

"During the three-minute clips in totality, the 16 microphones hidden in the midst of flowers in geographically isolated regions recorded a soundtrack composed almost entirely of silence, with only a buzzing interrupting the silence, as opposed to 90% of the microphones In partial phases of the eclipse, every few minutes at least one buzzer recorded, indicating a widespread bee activity, "write the researchers.

When the totality ended, the bees hummed again.

"We expected, based on the few reports in the literature, that the activity of the bees would decrease as the light would decrease during the eclipse and reach a minimum of totality," said Candace Galen, senior researcher of the study and professor of biological sciences at the University of Missouri, said in a statement from the Entomological Society of America. "But we did not expect the change to be so abrupt that bees would continue to fly to the totality and then stop completely, it was like & # 39; light & # 39; in the summer camp! That surprised us."

Interestingly, the researchers also observed that the humming of the bees lasted longer than it began to darken in the moments that led to the totality. This may indicate that the bees are flying slower.

"I think that when you drive on a road and it gets foggy, you slow down," Galen told Smithsonian Magazine, explaining that the sudden change in lighting was likely to reduce the visibility of the bees. Bees are also known to slow their airspeeds at dusk, Galen said in the statement released by the Entomological Society of America.

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"The solar eclipse gave us the opportunity to ask if the novel environmental context – open sky at noon – would change the response of the bees to dim light and darkness." As we found out, the total darkness causes the same behavior in bees, regardless of Timing and Context And that's new information about bee cognition, "Galen said in the statement.

Bees are not the only creatures that behave strangely during a total eclipse. Dolphins, chimpanzees and bats, among other animals, seem to do that too.

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