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Posts Tagged: dead bees

Not Brotherly Love

'Tis the season for brotherly love, but not in the bee hive.

As the honey-gathering season ends and the weather turns colder, the worker bees (infertile females) push their brothers--the drones--out of the hive. Drones are of no use to the colony in the winter. They're another mouth to feed. (The sole function of the drones are to mate with the queen.)

So how are the worker bees able to shove the much-larger drones from the hive?

"The sisters quit feeding their brothers so that they're lighter and easier to push," said UC Davis apiculturist Eric Mussen.

UC Davis bee breeder-geneticist Susan Cobey admits to having a soft spot for the drones.  “They’re cold and hungry, sitting there on the doorstep and wanting to go back in. They’re attacked and they die.  Well, it’s a matriarchal society.”

It is.

A matriarchal society in the season of brotherly love. 

Dead bees
Dead bees

DEAD BEES--Drones are pushed out of the hive, cold and hungry, as the honey-gathering season ends and the weather turns colder. Some of these bees are drones (males) and some are worker bees (infertile females). This photo was taken Dec. 20, 2008. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Posted on Friday, December 26, 2008 at 6:49 PM

A Hymn for Her

Did you catch the  "The Burns and the Bees" episode on The Simpsons Sunday night?

Dead honey bees take over the otherwise animated TV show. 

Bart, on a dare from schoolyard bullies, knocks a bee's nest from a tree and it lands kerplop on the playground. Bart's sister Lisa pounces on it to save the would-be targets--a group of second graders--from painful stings.

But all the bees are dead.

Then Lisa visits a beekeeper and he shows her a carpet of bees.

They're dead. All the bees are dead.

The hymn, "Amazing Grace," plays soulfully in the background.

Next scene: Lisa is determined to save the last remaining colony of bees in Springfield.  However,  billionaire Mr. Burns is determined to erect a professional basketball stadium at the very site where Lisa's "saved" bees are.

What happens next? If you didn't catch the episode, be sure to watch it on www.hulu.com or You Tube.

We humans rarely see dead bees. The "undertaker bees" quickly and methodically remove them from the hive. I captured this photo last summer as three workers bees prepared to remove their fallen sister.

Where was the hymn for her? Where's Lisa?

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound...

The Dead Bee
The Dead Bee

THE DEAD BEE--Worker bees prepare to remove their dead sister (far left) from the hive. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Posted on Wednesday, December 10, 2008 at 5:13 PM
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