A bee’s brain may be about the size of a sesame seed, but neuroscientists are increasingly turning to these microcosmic consciousnesses in their attempt to understand how the human brain operates.
Now, a brand new bee research facility for neuroscientists in Queensland, Australia has been opened with the intention of increasing our understanding of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s according to a report in The Age.
The $2.5 million All Weather Bee Flight Facility (AWBFF) is specially designed to help scientists to study how bee’s brains function and develop. Housed at a dedicated neuroscience research center (the Queensland Brain Institute), it is claimed that the AWBFF is the world’s largest indoor, climate-controlled insect flight-testing facility.
But why are neuroscientists so interested in bee’s brains? More on that (and other bee-brained projects) after the bump.
Welcome to Bee Watch, a series of updates on Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) –the name given to the sudden and dramatic decline in bee populations since the mid-noughties.
Why does CCD matter?
If the bees go, we go. Bees pollinate about a third of the food we eat, but more than that: they also sting bad people and scare the pants off small children. CCD is preventing large numbers of bees from performing these tasks efficiently.
Bee Watch will bring you the latest research news on CCD and related bee-news.
Researchers in the University of Warwick, England, are investigating ways of killing the varroa mite –the small parasite believed to be a factor in CCD– using a natural fungus and some novel dispersion methods, including fungal foot baths for bees, the idea being that when bees enter the hive, their legs will pick up (and distribute) the fungus that kills the little parasite.