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What a load of piffle!

 
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Barbara
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Joined: 27 Jul 2011
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Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Thu May 22, 2014 6:27 pm    Post subject: What a load of piffle! Reply with quote

An article on MSN news today......

Honey bees's foraging preferences can provide valuable information for governments about how to better manage rural landscapes, according to new research.

In the past two decades, the European Union has spent 41 billion euros (£33.4 billion) on agri-environment schemes (AES), which aim to improve the rural landscape by bringing in changes such as the creation of areas for wildlife around crop fields.

There are different levels of AES, although few studies exist evaluating how wildlife responds to the schemes, researchers at the University of Sussex have said.

But a study published today in the journal Current Biology has revealed that a honey bee's waggle dance, in which it waggles its abdomen while moving in a figure of eight pattern to tell its nest mates where to find good sources of pollen and nectar, identifies the better areas as being in rural lands under a higher level AES rather than any other land type, including urban areas and rural lands not under AES.

Researchers at Sussex's Laboratory of Apiculture and Social Insects (Lasi) spent two years filming waggle dances made by worker honey bees living in glass-fronted observation hives.

They then decoded the dances to discover where bees were gathering their food.

By combining the waggle dance data with maps of land use, the researchers could make a landscape wide survey of the surrounding 94 sq km (36 sq miles) because honey bees forage at long distances from their hives.

The bees were able to access the surrounding city and countryside through tubes in the lab wall that opened to the outside.

The landscape was divided into one of seven land types - urban, rural, and five types of rural under government-funded AESs, a university spokeswoman said.

The study showed that the most plentiful areas for foraging were rural lands in higher AESs.

Lead researcher Dr Margaret Couvillon said: "Usually efforts to help wildlife takes two approaches.

"One is to set aside important areas like National Parks or National Nature Reserves.

"Another approach is to make existing areas more wildlife-friendly, like the agri-environment schemes.

"Here we have let the bees tell us which practices and what areas are good for them.

"The honey bee is acting as an 'indicator' species pointing to 'healthy landscapes'.

"The honey bee is a generalist forager, so landscapes used by honey bees are good for a wide range of pollinators.

"The waggle dance is, therefore, more than just honey-bee behaviour. It is a powerful tool for ecology and conservation, providing unique information that may help to evaluate landscapes and human efforts to sustain a more wildlife-friendly world."


Does anyone else feel a little cynical about this research?

The waggle dance will point in the direction of the nearest OSR field and that is definitely not healthy for them or other pollinators! Of course they are going to get more excited about a field of rape than a wild rural setting, but it doesn't mean, even with additional areas of AES that it is more healthy than a wild rural setting.
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biobee
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Joined: 14 Jun 2007
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Location: UK, England, S. Devon

PostPosted: Thu May 22, 2014 8:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

U of S seems curiously 'pesticide-blind' while claiming not to receive any agri-chem industry money or government funding. So where do they get their money from, I wonder?

I agree: deeply sceptical.

BTW- friends of mine, at huge expense, just planted 45 acres with wildflower seed. Would you believe that they still had to leave a 5m 'field margin' comprising mostly docks?
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Vallee
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Joined: 13 Mar 2010
Posts: 209
Location: Vienne, France.

PostPosted: Fri May 23, 2014 5:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Take it with a pinch of salt. Please realise that research institutions have to produce the goods if they have been grant aided. Also by having results published in peer reviewed journals they can attract more research funds but this does not always necessarily indicate the quality of the research.
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