Dr. Frank Linton is passionate about bees. Peter Hufford, Robin Brooke and I got to share in a bit of that passion when we visited Frank's observation bee hive yesterday morning. Teaching duties keep me from having the time to share more fully all that I learned, but let me just hit a few of the highlights:
- Honey bees communicate information about the location of food by "dancing".
- They point relative to the direction and "waggle" relative to the distance of the food.
- They are the only know species of animal to communicate this way.
- There is a 10 million dollar project underway at Harvard to build a robotic bee.
- Bees maintain a temperature of 95 degrees Fahrenheit around the developing young by converting honey into heat (by flapping their wings).
- If the temperature gets below 55 degrees Fahrenheit, the hive will die.
- Hives generally have only one queen, though about 5 percent have two (sister or mother/daughter) queens.
- Honey can keep a looong time. Edible honey was found in Egyptian tombs.
- Below a certain moisture content, sugar becomes a preservative, because it binds chemically with water molecules, literally sucking the living water out of any microscopic plant, animal, or fungus that might come in contact with it.
- A bee hive can be moved less than 3 feet or more than 3 miles, and the bees will be able to find it. Move it more than 3 feet and less than 3 miles, and the hive will die because the bees will be lost.
I am greatly looking forward to our work this semester on the Measure activity for Sugar.