If I could choose anyone in the world to speak at my bee club…

…it would be Professor Mandyam Srinivasan. Granted, I may be a little unique there but I have enjoyed many of his papers on honey bee neurophysiology. He is Professor of Visual Neuroscience at the Queensland Brain Institute in Australia. His research focuses on the principles of visual processing, perception and cognition in bees and . . . → Read More: If I could choose anyone in the world to speak at my bee club…

Drones Make Love Not War

I have two hobbies: beekeeping and building/flying multirotors or drones.  There is rarely any overlap between the two but recently I have noticed a spate of YouTube videos with titles such as (click on the links!):

Continue reading Drones Make Love Not War

Foldscope & The Dream of Easy Pollen Identification

Leeuwenhoek_Microscope

Leeuwenhoek_Microscope

It would be wonderful to identify pollen in honey and from pollen gathered by bees.  You can do that with a 400x-1000x microscope for a couple of hundred dollars and some training in staining techniques. So when I heard about Foldscope – an origami microscope that fits in your pocket and costs less than 2 bucks – I was excited about the prospect of beekeepers identifying pollen in the field.

Foldscope originated out of the department of bioengineering at Stanford University. The Prakash Lab designed a low cost paper microscope that more closely resembles the original Leeuwenhoek microscope than the familiar tubular compound microscopes today.

One goal of foldscope is to provide a microscope to healthcare workers in poor countries to diagnose disease. The Prakash Lab received grants from several foundations to hand out thousands of foldscopes.  I was one among thousands of beta testers from 130 different countries to request a foldscope (the beta phase is now closed) and it arrived in an envelope several weeks later. Continue reading Foldscope & The Dream of Easy Pollen Identification

Negative Synergy

“Scientists continue to hunt for the cause of Colony Collapse Disorder or CCD”. That statement presumes that there is a single cause and not a cascade of causes.  It reflects the way we humans think – we naturally want to find the one answer, the simplest answer . If you were to mashup quotations from William of Occam (see Occams Razor) and Voltaire, you might get something like this: “If the simplest answer did not exist, it would be necessary to invent it”. Continue reading Negative Synergy

Monitoring Honey Bee Colonies Electronically

I recently got an email from Frank Linton. Frank works at Mitre Corp and has been interested in hive monitoring for a long time. Last year, he organized the first workshop on hive monitoring at Eastern Apicultural Society’s annual conference in Vermont.  I’ll let Frank speak for himself – the following is an excerpt . . . → Read More: Monitoring Honey Bee Colonies Electronically

Zombies, Citizen Science, & Motivation

Zombie bee with phorid fly larvae

A really dead zombie honey bee after phorid fly larvae emerge

As if there were not enough pests that kills bees already,  we can now add parasitic phorid fly to our list of worries.  This fly, recently reported in PLoS, lays its eggs in the honey bee and this turns the honey bee into a zombie.  Rather, the infected honey bee exhibits zombie-like behavior. According to a fascinating, new website, ZombeeWatch.org, “Honey bees infected by the Zombie Fly leave their hives at night and are attracted to nearby lights where they become stranded and eventually die.” Kinda like zombies. Continue reading Zombies, Citizen Science, & Motivation