Bees Silent at the Sign of an Eclipse

On August 21, 2017, many were amazed at the Great American Eclipse, a wonder on display for us in the sky. But strangely, the bees stopped buzzing.

A new study analyzed the impact of the eclipse on the behavior of bees. When bees fly, they move their wing muscles, causing a buzz. In order to collect data on the bees’ buzzing, researchers at the University of Missouri and volunteers planted microphones about the size of flash drives in flower patches and gardens. Environmental sensors that recorded the temperature and brightness were also placed away from the human population in 16 monitoring locations across Oregon, Idaho, and Missouri.

After the eclipse, schoolchildren helped the researchers analyze the data from the recordings. The students counted the buzzing before, during, and after the eclipse. They discovered that when the eclipse reached its peak, the bees went silent, except for one buzz.

The students hypothesized that the peak of the eclipse would confuse the bees into thinking it was nighttime. And it turns out, they were right.

[Source: The New York Times]

How cool! Citizen science can be very useful! – LucyMadison (2019-02-11 14:56)