November 9, 2010 1 Comment
Just on my way home from my second day as educational resource assistant for a project to encourage people to keep bees. My job involves creating educational materials for primary schools to accompany the project and highlight the plight of bees. This means I’ve spent the last couple of days reading the kind of thing that already goes out to schools, and reading lots of interesting things about bees.
Unfortunately, most of the stuff that I’m finding most interesting probably isn’t as relevant to the ecological importance of honey bees. Like how they don’t just have regular old dull compound eyes like I thought they did, but that they’ve also got three simple-lens ocelli, which are only really sensitive to light, and have been suggested to be part of some sort of orientation mechanism. Or that they don’t have centralised brains, but instead just have bunches of nerves down their body. Or that they can not only detect colour and patterns, but are capable of remembering them reasonably well several days after just one exposure, and almost perfectly after three! Or that their sting evolved from the ovipositor, but in some species it’s in a weird halfway stage where the sting is more like a sword.
The irreplacable role of bees in the economy, and more importantly the environment is probably easier to pitch as a classroom topic to primary school teachers, but I’m getting into it, and it seems a shame for it to go to waste.
So expect some bee related science over the coming few months. I’ll try and keep it neurosciencey…