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Local Scientist Attempts to Unravel Secret Language of Bees

Audio

Aired 4/19/09

Maureen Cavanaugh: The disappearing Honey bee has become one of the symbolic mysteries of a changing environment. Farmers and beekeepers report the number of honeybees continues to decline and scientists don't really know what to do about it. The reason we care, is that bees are a crucial part of agriculture. Without bee pollination, many crops, including fruits, almonds, hay and alfalfa just don't grow.

Bees, it seems, are highly social creatures, with an elaborate hive structure with hierarchy, duties and ways of communicating. My guest, evolutionary biologist James Nieh is researching not only how bees communicate but why such communication came into existance. In his study, Nieh has found bees have evolved elaborate coded behaviors, such as scents, buzzing and body movements. The research may lead to a better understanding of how to use other kinds of bees for pollination if the honeybee continues its decline.

Professor Nieh will be talking about "Life and Death Among the Flowers: The Perils and Secret Language of Bees" this Thursday, at 6:30pm, at the San Diego Natural History Museum in Balboa Park.

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