Meg and the bees

We met Meg Eckles last summer.  What a surprise to see her again on BCI this summer! Meg is very passionate about two things, bees and education.  She studies bees to try to explain why they have developed such complicated behaviors.  Meg has also spent a lot of time working with a high school teacher in San Diego helping students get involved in research and see the work being done in Panamá.

Meg knows a lot about bees.  She is working on earning her Ph.D. and is particularly interested in how bees behave, develop their memories, and learn.  Like many doctoral candidates, she has a team of volunteers, interns, and field students who help her collect her data.  My roommate, Catalina, was on Meg’s team.  Many mornings she was up at 4:00 a.m. and preparing to go out into the field.  She returned to the labs sometime after 7 a.m.  In the field she recorded the bees’ behavior as they exited their hive.  She had to head back to the field around 5:00 each evening and record their behaviors as the bees returned to the hive.  Fortunately for them the hive doesn’t move so they always know just where they have to go each day in the field! 

The bees they are currently studying are stingless bees – they bite instead of sting!  She is trying to figure out how the bees communicate with each other.  To do this her team sets sugar water out around the forest for the bees to find.  Then they move the sugar water and watch to see how the bees act when they get back to the hive.  Observing these changes can help make assumptions about how bees ‘talk’ to each other about the location of a food they love!

Have you ever been stung by a bee? Do you think a stingless bee bite hurts more than a bee sting?
Getting stung in no fun. But bees are important. How might bees be important to our lives? 

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