A National Public Radio broadcast recently discussed the freezing of honey bee embryos in North Dakota. The goal of projects like this is similar to seed banks, preserving genetic material for the long term. See: http://www.mprnews.org/story/2016/02/08/honey-bee-sperm-bank-research-fargo.
There has been a lot of work in the freezing of honey bee semen (sperm) in recent years, they are going beyond that work in North Dakota. Why North Dakota? North Dakota is one of the biggest honey producing areas of the United States. I have attended beekeeper meetings in North Dakota that don’t attract a lot of beekeepers, maybe 40, but these beekeepers together own a quarter of a million hives. I once had a beekeeper from there tell me that he was just a small beekeeper, he only owned 2,000 hives!
A great deal of work in freezing honey bee semen has been done at Washington State University. See the below links for more about what they are up to at WSU.
Yes, our honey bees can become little criminals and steal from their neighbors! The threat of larceny is usually not great in the spring and early summer when a good nectar flow is on, but as the flow slows or stops (as occurs from time to time, especially in periods of dry weather), bees are on the lookout for any food they can find. So watch out! It is that time of year. The closest source is often a neighboring hive. Colonies with strong populations can usually defend themselves. New nucs and divides, recently captured swarms, and any hives which have not built up well or which are dwindling due to disease, pests, or other causes, are all likely targets of robbing bees. The culprits may come from your own hives, from your neighbor’s, or from nearby bee trees. Continue reading
Honey bees are the ideal pollinator of most cultivated crops, but are not the bees to use in greenhouses. In a greenhouse, honey bees react much as they do when accidentally carried inside by beekeepers; they fly to the light (glass windows) and spent their time trying to escape. Bumblebees however, are more content to stay indoors and hence are the greenhouse pollinator of choice. Will they someday be the bee used for pollination in outer space? Below is another interesting story from our friends north of the border.
Bees in Space: Will Bees Pollinate an Extraterrestrial Crop?
Summary: Study finds that bumblebees can forage at atmospheric pressures as low as 50kPa, which means that they may someday be used during long term space missions to grow plants.
(November 6, 2012) – Guelph, Ontario, Canada
Scientists have spent years studying how to grow plants in controlled environments, anticipating the day when humans grow their own food on long term space missions. Now, a new study published in Gravitational and Space Biology has found that insect pollinators may very well play a role in future “self-sustaining” space missions. Continue reading