Bees go silent dur­ing to­tal so­lar eclipse, new study sug­gests

Tehran Times - - SCIENCE -

In an un­prece­dented study of a so­lar eclipse’s in­flu­ence on bee be­hav­ior, re­searchers or­ga­nized ci­ti­zen sci­en­tists and el­e­men­tary school class­rooms to set up acous­tic mon­i­tor­ing sta­tions to lis­ten in on bees’ buzzing -- or lack thereof -- as the Au­gust 2017 to­tal so­lar eclipse passed over North Amer­ica. The re­sults were clear and con­sis­tent at lo­ca­tions across the United States: Bees stopped fly­ing dur­ing the pe­riod of to­tal so­lar eclipse.

While mil­lions of Amer­i­cans took a break from their daily rou­tines on Au­gust 21, 2017, to wit­ness a to­tal so­lar eclipse, they might not have no­ticed a sim­i­lar phe­nom­e­non hap­pen­ing nearby: In the path of to­tal­ity, bees took a break from their daily rou­tines, too.

In an un­prece­dented study of a so­lar eclipse’s in­flu­ence on bee be­hav­ior, re­searchers at the Univer­sity of Mis­souri or­ga­nized a cadre of ci­ti­zen sci­en­tists and el­e­men­tary school class­rooms in set­ting up acous­tic mon­i­tor­ing sta­tions to lis­ten in on bees’ buzzing -- or lack thereof -- as the 2017 eclipse passed over.

The re­sults, pub­lished Oc­to­ber 10 in the An­nals of the En­to­mo­log­i­cal So­ci­ety of Amer­ica, were clear and con­sis­tent at lo­ca­tions across the coun­try: Bees stopped fly­ing dur­ing the pe­riod of to­tal so­lar eclipse.

“We an­tic­i­pated, based on the smat­ter­ing of re­ports in the lit­er­a­ture, that bee ac­tiv­ity would drop as light dimmed dur­ing the eclipse and would reach a min­i­mum at to­tal­ity,” says Can­dace Galen, Ph.D., pro­fes­sor of bi­o­log­i­cal sciences at the Univer­sity of Mis­souri and lead re­searcher on the study.

As an­tic­i­pa­tion mounted for the eclipse, “it seemed as if every­one and their dog was ask­ing me what an­i­mals would do dur­ing a to­tal eclipse,” Galen says. How­ever, few for­mal stud­ies had ever ex­am­ined the be­hav­ior of in­sects, specif­i­cally, dur­ing a so­lar eclipse, and none had looked at bees.

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