Bees Go Silent During Total Solar Eclipse, Study Finds

Posted: Oct 11 2018, 11:14am CDT | by , Updated: Oct 11 2018, 11:18am CDT , in Latest Science News


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Bees Go Silent During Total Solar Eclipse, Study Finds
Credit: Susan Ellis

The data shows that bees stopped flying during Great American Eclipse.

Total solar eclipse not only affects human’s routines but also alters bee behavior.

A new study suggests that bees across United States responded strangely during the 2017 total solar eclipse. They stopped flying as moon passed between the sun and Earth and reacted the same way at different locations across the country.

“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," said lead researcher Candace Galen, a professor of biological science at University of Missouri. "But, we had not expected that the change would be so abrupt, that bees would continue flying up until totality and only then stop, completely. It was like 'lights out' at summer camp! That surprised us."

On August 2017, US experienced its first total solar eclipse in 99 years. During that total solar eclipse, moon completely blocked out sunlight for 2 minutes and 40-plus seconds. While most people were looking up at the eclipse and enjoying the view, some wanted to observe bee’s world because something unusual could be happening there.

There are few studies about animal behavior during eclipse, but none of them involved bees. During the last year’s total eclipse, researchers set up 16 acoustic monitoring stations to observe bee reaction and listened in on bees' buzzing or lack thereof. The stations were placed near flowers hours before the eclipse. In some of the locations, light and temperature data were also captured.

The data showed that bees remained active during the partial-eclipse phases, but they suddenly gone quiet in the period of total darkness. These exciting findings provide new insight into how insects like bees respond to solar eclipses.

“The eclipse gave us an opportunity to ask whether the novel environmental context – mid-day, open skies –would alter the bees' behavioral response to dim light and darkness,” said Galen. “As we found, complete darkness elicits the same behavior in bees, regardless of timing or context. And that's new information about bee cognition.”

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/47" rel="author">Hira Bashir</a>
The latest discoveries in science are the passion of Hira Bashir (). With years of experience, she is able to spot the most interesting new achievements of scientists around the world and cover them in easy to understand reporting.




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