… Read the rest
Bees have encouraged mathematical speculation for two millennia, since classical scholars tried to explain the geometrically appealing shape of honeycombs. How do bees tackle complex problems that humans would express mathematically? In this series we’ll explore three situations where understanding the maths could help explain the uncanny instincts of bees.
Honeybees collect nectar from flowers and use it to produce honey, which they then store in honeycombs made of beeswax (in turn derived from honey). A question that has puzzled many inquiring minds across the ages is: why are honeycombs made of hexagonal cells?
The Roman scholar Varro, in his 1st century BC book-long poem De Agri Cultura (“On Agriculture”), briefly states
“Does not the chamber in the comb have six angles, the same number as the bee has feet? The geometricians prove that this hexagon inscribed in a circular figure encloses the greatest amount of space1.”
This quote is the earliest known source suggesting a link between the hexagonal shape of the honeycomb and a mathematical property of the hexagon, made more explicit a few centuries later by Pappus of Alexandria (sometimes considered to be the last Ancient Greek mathematician).
Tag Archives | Bees
This piece originally appeared on HoneyColony.
Last week, a story about GMO corn killing millions of bees in Canada went viral. Only one small oversight, the title was misleading and the event was two years old. With the pesticide pushers regularly spreading misinformation, it’s important that we get our facts straight. What is the current bee situation in Canada and who really is to blame?
The Link Between GMO Corn And Bees
As the director of the film Vanishing of the Bees, and the resident bee guardian within my virtual community, FB friends regularly post bee news on my wall. Last week, a handful of people sent me a story titled 37 Million Bees Found Dead In Ontario, Canada After Planting Large GMO Corn Field. It sounded familiar. Interested to learn more, I tracked down the beekeeper Dave Schuit who had lost all those bees.… Read the rest
I was looking for articles about honeybees to post on True Mind’s Facebook and Twitter accounts, and I came across the artwork of beekeeper Ren Ri. It’s stunning and I thought that the Disinfo community might be interested as well. He creates everything out of bits of beehive and beeswax.
via Alessandro De Toni Cool Hunting:
Artist Ren Ri (who trained at Tsinghua Academy of Art and Saint Petersburg State University in Russia) creates art that is influenced by his childhood—one that occurred amongst the beautiful scenery of Wuhan’s lush vegetation. “Back then, I was spending a lot of time observing animals and plants; my passion for moulding was parallel to an interest for insect ethology,” he recalls. Thus came the inspiration for his project “Yuansu II” which is crafted from the extraordinary medium of beeswax.
… Read the rest
The artist’s unconventional medium is fascinating and has a life of its own—adding character and volatility to each piece of art.
This week: Ken gets all nerdy about the Star Wars Episode VII cast announcement, The KKK gets all neighbourly and then sleeps with a gay black guy, Bees are little bastards!, Balls of purity, More fascism in the UK, Dem Vampire Ants be all up in my yard, E.T.’s sordid past, Locke and load, and Trippin’ in Italy.
This seems fairly definitive, but I’m sure some of you have other theories regarding CCD, pesticides and Harvard in general.
… Read the rest
The mysterious vanishing of honeybees from hives can be directly linked to insecticide use, according to new research from Harvard University. The scientists showed that exposure to two neonicotinoids, the world’s most widely used class of insecticide, lead to half the colonies studied dying, while none of the untreated colonies saw their bees disappear.
“We demonstrated that neonicotinoids are highly likely to be responsible for triggering ‘colony collapse disorder’ in honeybee hives that were healthy prior to the arrival of winter,” said Chensheng Lu, an expert on environmental exposure biology at Harvard School of Public Health and who led the work.
The loss of honeybees in many countries in the last decade has caused widespread concern because about three-quarters of the world’s food crops require pollination.
… Read the rest
Beekeepers in Mexico are fearful that GMO crops are killing the honeybee. A new study published by Scientific Report stated that genetically modified seeds are “bad news” for Mexican beekeepers and specifically points to GMO soybeans as a threat. Mexico is the fourth largest producer of honey in the entire world.
The presence of GMO pollen in honey makes it extremely difficult for Mexican beekeepers to export their product to Europe, where GMO laws are stringent. If honey contaminated with genetically modified pollen is not outright rejected in Europe, it has to be sold for substantially reduced rates. Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute scientists have found that soybean crops were the source of GMO pollen in honey produced in the Yucatan.
But surely widespread pesticide usage wouldn’t have similar subtle effects on the growth and development of humans.Via the Guardian:
Bumblebees could be shrinking because of exposure to a widely-used pesticide, a study suggests.
Scientists in the UK conducted laboratory tests which showed how a pyrethroid pesticide stunted the growth of worker bumblebee larvae, causing them to hatch out reduced in size.
Pyrethroid pesticides are commonly used on flowering crops to prevent insect damage. The study, the first to examine the pesticides’ impact across the entire lifecycle of bumblebees, tracked the growth of bee colonies over a four month period.
Currently a Europe-wide moratorium on the use of three neonicotinoid pesticides is in force because of their alleged harmful effect on bees. As a result, the use of other types of pesticide, including pyrethroids, is likely to increase, say the researchers.
I guess if we keep using these chemicals we’ll collapse the ecosystem but be too stupid to care about it.
… Read the rest
The EU warned Tuesday that two widely used insecticides, one of which has already been implicated in bee population decline, may pose a risk to human health.
The neonicotinoid insecticides acetamiprid and imidacloprid “may affect the developing human nervous system,” the European Food Safety Authority said, the first time such a link has been made.
As a result, experts wanted “some guidance levels for acceptable exposure … to be lowered while further research is carried out to provide more reliable data on developmental neurotoxicity (DNT).”
The EFSA said its opinion was based on recent research and existing data on “the potential of acetamiprid and imidacloprid to damage the developing human nervous system — in particular the brain.”
The research suggested the two insecticides “may adversely affect the development of neurons and brain structures associated with functions such as learning and memory,” the EFSA said in a statement.
Abby Martin interviews Maryam Henein, investigative journalist and co-director of the film Vanishing of the Bees about a phenomenon known as Colony Collapse Disorder, which not only threatens honeybees, but a $16 Billion food industry in the United States.
While discussing the fourth annual National Honeybee Day, on August. 17, a colleague from the Center for Food Safety informed me that the bees were going to be landing on the front cover of Time Magazine. Did this mean that the bees were officially mainstream now? Was the article going to tell the masses that systemic pesticides are responsible for colony collapse disorder, a theory that my documentary Vanishing of the Bees put forth four years earlier?
Luckily, I subscribe to Time. When I downloaded it onto my Kindle, I was greeted with an audio clip of buzzing bees. That was the most impressive part of the package aside from the cover art. The only new thing I discovered was the development of a genome repository—a.k.a a sperm bank for bees—by Washington State researchers.… Read the rest