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Zee Action

Zee Project explores a whole world between Men and Bees.

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About Zee

How did it start? Why? Discovering good relations in Nature...

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Zee Store

The work of the hard working honey bees. See and TASTE IT!

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How do bees communicate? By dancing... The "waggle dance" is a type of communication that bees developed in order to share the exact location of a rich food source. Its duration it is related to the distance to the hive, the farther the target, the longer the waggle phase. The direction is closely related to the position of the sun.


Honey bees perform different tasks inside the hive. The type of task is associated with worker bees’ age. There are four main work tasks: the younger bees (cell cleaners, nurses), middle-aged bees that build combs/process nectar, pollen/nectar foragers and a winter bee generalist state.


This social system displays three main features: adults live in groups and demonstrate cooperative care of juveniles; reproductive division of labour evolves from sterile worker bees and only one reproductive female queen; overlapping generations (older generations help younger worker bees).


Macro Bees

The head of the US Geological Survey Bee Inventory and Monitoring Laboratory in Maryland, Sam Droege, and his team have been photographing bees and other insects for the past few years to create an online reference catalogue. Follow the link to see their beautiful work in pictures posted by The Guardian or go directly to the USGS Bee Inventory and Monitoring Lab flickr photo gallery.

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Bees needed in Europe

Europe has 13.4 million too few honeybee colonies to properly pollinate its crops, according to new research from the University of Reading.

The discovery, made by scientists at the University's Centre for Agri-Environmental Research (CAER), shows that demand for insect pollination is growing five times as fast as the number of honeybee colonies across Europe as farmers grow more oil crops, such as oilseed rape and sunflowers, and fruit.

Researchers, led by Professor Simon Potts at the University of Reading, compared the numbers of active beehives to the demand for pollination services across 41 European countries, and mapped the changes between 2005 and 2010. They found that in more than half of European countries, including the UK, France, Germany and Italy, there were not enough honeybees to properly pollinate the crops grown.

The problem was particularly acute in Britain, which has only a quarter of the honeybees it needs to pollinate crops. Only Moldova, one of the continent's poorest countries, with an economy more than 300 times smaller than Britain's, has a bigger honeybee deficit than the UK.

Europe as a whole only has two thirds of the honeybee colonies it needs, with a deficit of more than 13.4 million colonies. 

The findings suggest that agriculture in many countries is increasingly reliant upon wild pollinators, such as bumblebees, solitary bees and hoverflies. However, Europe still lacks coherent environmental and agricultural policies to protect these insects' habitats.

Dr Tom Breeze, who conducted the research published today (8 January 2014) in the journal PLOS One, said: "This study has shown that EU biofuel policy has had an unforeseen consequence in making us more reliant upon wild pollinators.

"The results don't show that wild pollinators actually do all the work, but they do show we have less security if their populations should collapse."
This follows other research from the University of Reading, published last month in Biological Conservation, showing that wild pollinators such as bumblebees and solitary bees are just as effective pollinators of oilseed rape as honeybees.

Professor Simon Potts said: "We face a catastrophe in future years unless we act now. Wild pollinators need greater protection. They are the unsung heroes of the countryside, providing a critical link in the food chain for humans and doing work for free that would otherwise cost British farmers £1.8bn to replace.

"There is a growing disconnection between agricultural and environmental policies across Europe. Farmers are encouraged to grow oil crops, yet there is not enough joined-up thinking about how to help the insects that will pollinate them. 

"We need a proper strategy across Europe to conserve wild bees and pollinators through habitat protection, agricultural policy and farming methods - or we risk big financial losses to the farming sector and a potential food security crisis."

The team also highlighted the economic impacts of pollination services to the British apple industry in a third study. Insect pollinators add £37m a year to the value of just two varieties of British apples, Gala and Cox, by increasing fruit yield and quality, found University of Reading researchers led by Dr Mike Garratt. 

The findings are published this month in the journal Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment.
Extracted from University of Reading, UK News

Full references:
Breeze T.D., Vaissiere B., Bommarco R., Petanidou T., Seraphides N, Kozák L., Scheper J., Biesmeijer J.C., Kleijn D., Gyldenkærne S., Moretti. M., Holzscuh A., Steffan-Dewenter I., Stout J., Pärtel M., Zobel M. & Potts S.G. (2014) Agricultural Policies Exacerbate Honeybee Pollination Service Supply-Demand Mismatches Across Europe; PLoS One 9(2): e91459

Garrat M.P., Breeze T.D., Jenner N., Polce C., Biesmeijer J.C and Potts S.G. (2014) Avoiding a bad apple: insect pollination enhances fruit quality and economic value; Agriculture Ecosystems and Environment 184, 34-40

Garratt, M.P.D., Coston D.J., Truslove C.L., Lappage M.G., Polce C., Dean R., Biesmeijer J.C. and Potts S.G. (2014) The identity of crop pollinators helps target conservation for improved ecosystem services; Biological Conservation 169, 128-135

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Honey bees&Flowers

The honey bee performs a crucial role in the reproductive cycle of flowers. The floral nectar (energy source) and bee pollen (protein source) are the only food sources that honey bess are able to digest. Then for their survival, honey bees are totally dependent on the flowers they visit. During evolution, bees and flowers developed and enhanced a shared survival mechanism side by side. Plants figured out different ways to ensure reproduction. As sessile organisms, they rely upon other animals or factors to spread pollen. Pollen is basically a powder produced by the male parts (anthers) of the flower plants, that encloses the male gamete that will fecundate the ovule on the female part (stigma) and give rise to seeds. Pollination, the pollen transfer from the anthers to the stigma, is the reproductive strategy of flower plants. Honey bees and other insects, birds and a few mammals, make this type of pollination one of the most efficient and specific strategies used by almost 80% of flower plants.

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