Sunday, June 06, 2010

Goddard Space Flight Center's HoneyBeeNet

"Urban beekeepers, who prowl their rooftops in full beekeeper regalia, are becoming chic in the nation's capital, and their semi-secret society is less so, given the growing popularity of their peculiar and ancient hobby."---The Washington Post (6-3-09)

[Hat tip Bee Keepers Association of Northern Virginia (BANV)]

NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center has a site called HoneyBeeNet. This site teaches people how they can participate in the study of bees and of phenology, (not to be confused with the pseudoscience phrenology) "the study of periodic plant and animal life cycle events and how these are influenced by seasonal and interannual variations in climate."

According to HoneyBeeNet:

Ecologists are concerned that crucial plant-pollinator relationships could be disrupted as a result of climate and land use changes, to the detriment of all (see National Academies report on this). We are using colonies of honey bees in the Mid-Atlantic region to monitor changes in the timing of this plant-pollinator interaction – the honey bee nectar flow - by the simple, yet careful, daily weighing of hives to track incremental changes. Our Maryland data indicate that the peak nectar flow occurs nearly 4 weeks earlier than in 1970’s. This change of the nectar flow timing is likely due to climate changes and the warming effect of urbanization. Independent observations confirm that nectar sources are blooming earlier. How these changes will impact ecosystems and agriculture needs to be carefully assessed.

Beekeeping, or apiculture, is a tradition that goes back 6000 years. The Washington Post (1-27-05) reports:

Cave drawings found in Spain, dating back that far, show a person collecting honey from a nest in the side of a cave. Drawings on some of the Egyptian pyramids also show beekeepers with very rustic beehives dating to about 1,450 B.C., Tignor said.

Check out this page if you want to participate by gathering data for HoneyBeeNet. You may be able to participate without getting an elaborate hive set-up.

Check out the Youtube videos under bee hives to see a bit about what is involved in bee-keeping. It's not rocket science, but it doesn't look too easy, either!

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