Bees

  • To raise awareness of the plight of bees – and, no doubt, to nab some positive PR buzz and shift a few more Big Macs – McDonald's in Sweden has created what it calls "the world's smallest McDonald's." But there's a twist, would you bee-lieve it – it's not a McDonald's. It's a beehive.
  • The potential for micro flying-robots in areas like search and rescue, agriculture and hazard detection is huge, but so are the hurdles. Researchers at the University of Southern California (USC) have been working on these problems with their Bee+, drawing inspiration from the insect world.
  • ​Depending on their formulation, most adhesives fail either when they're exposed to excessive humidity, or when they dry out in arid conditions. Honeybees, however, don't have such problems with their "pollen pellets." A new understanding of why this is so could lead to better manmade adhesives.
  • A colony of bees in Austria and a school of fish in Switzerland have become unlikely allies. In experiments run by several European universities, the two very different animal species were able to communicate and coordinate their movements long-distance with the help of some robotic interpreters.
  • Science
    Some studies suggest the world is entering a sixth major extinction event. But now, in a rare piece of good news from that field, researchers from Australia, Canada and the US have rediscovered Wallace’s giant bee, an insect that hasn’t been seen in almost 40 years.
  • Honeybees are increasingly under threat. To help save these creatures from extinction, researchers from York University have found a group of genes that appears to be related to how hygienic a particular colony of bees is, and selective breeding for these genes could help fight colony collapse.
  • Science
    Researchers have found that bees can do basic arithmetic. The discovery that bees have the ability to add and subtract shows that the busy little insects are capable of a sophisticated level of cognition and proves once again that brain power isn't necessarily dependent on brain size.​
  • Our drones are pretty handy, but nature’s drones – bees – are far more efficient. Rather than building our own from scratch, researchers at the University of Washington have created tiny suites of sensors that bees can wear like backpacks, to help gather data from their environment.
  • Royal jelly is a substance that separates queen bees from rest. For the first time, scientists have not only zeroed on the protein behind its incredible growth spurts, they’ve used its structure to identify a similar protein in mammals.
  • A new beehive system made up of a series of hexagonal prisms may be just what your bees need. The Honeycomb Hives system is designed to tackle bee colony losses by making hives which apparently keep pests out, get rid of condensation and which retain heat more efficiently.
  • A large percentage of the world's food production relies on bee pollination - but what do we do when the bees can't be relied on? US startup Dropcopter has just demonstrated that it can deliver a 25-60 percent boost in pollination rates using autonomous drones to pick up where the bees left off.
  • Neonicotinoids are bad news for bees and we've known it for a while. But the situation regarding bee populations and the world's most widely used pesticide has now become so dire that the EU has placed a complete ban on their outdoor use, and it's expected to take effect by the end of the year.