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Published: October 31, 2009 3:00 a.m.
a compendium of research findings from Harper’s magazine:
•As honeybees continued to vanish from their hives, researchers supported by the National Honey Board pointed to pesticide accumulation in beeswax as a contributing factor in Colony Collapse Disorder. The researchers, who also found that beeswax loses half its accumulated mite-killing pesticides when subjected to Cobalt 60 gamma radiation, suggested that beekeepers change their honeycombs more often.
•Scottish beekeepers reported the appearance of American Foul Brood (which, unlike European Foul Brood, is incurable), and Cape honeybees breached the Capensis Line, which South Africa’s government maintains to prevent the spread of AFB to African honeybees.
•Bee inbreeding was rising as populations shrank, leading to freak male bees with excessive chromosomes, lower fertility and bad work habits.
•In Britain, where the countryside was plagued by bee thefts, authorities planned to reintroduce, from New Zealand, the locally extinct short-haired bumblebee; U.S. entomologists hoped to offset honeybee declines by promoting the solitary blue orchard bee, which can live in Styrofoam.
•It was discovered that America once had its own native honeybee, Apis nearctica.
•Scientists found that forcing forager bees to undertake nursing tasks makes them less likely to grow stupid with age, that baby bees’ immune systems are less active if their hives are coated in antimicrobial bee resin, that male orchid bees stick out their legs to remain stable in high winds, and that bumblebees stay aloft through brute force.
•Invasive wasps were eating pheasants in Hawaii. “You see them flying with their balls of meat,” said an entomologist of the wasps. “If you have something that can fight back, like a honeybee, then they go straight for the head.”
•Elephants can be kept at bay by barriers built of beehives.