Friday, August 19, 2011

Following Bumblebees

Bumblebees are fun to watch and, when they're collecting pollen in a bunch of flowers, they're pretty easy to follow. But once they load up and head for home they fly too fast and too high to follow. And when another bee shows up on those flowers later, I always wonder if it's the same bee or a new one.

The bumblebees on my sunflowers are so focused on collecting pollen that I could put a dot of paint or white-out on their backs (thorax) and they might not notice. Then at least I would know whether the same ones come back day after day.

But wouldn't it be cool if we could glue little radio-tracking devices on them and follow them around? Some scientists in London have done just that.Scientists have also glued tiny radar transponders onto bees and followed them with radar. They discovered that bees fly faster than they thought (about 30 miles per hour) and farther (up to 12 miles). And yes, they do indeed make "bee lines" home.

Here's a video from BBC's wildlife show "Animal Camera" hosted by Steve Leonard.

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