So now we arrive at the present day. Wasps are predators. Haunting, illuminating, and deftly written, The History of Bees joins these three very different narratives into one gripping and thought-provoking story that is just as much about the powerful bond between children and parents as it is about our very relationship to nature and humanity. I received a call from aeronautical engineers who were investigating the cause of an instrument failure which had forced a military helicopter belonging to a certain well-known superpower – confidentiality agreements prevent me from revealing which one – to perform an emergency landing. A mutualistic relationship had begun which was to change the appearance of the earth. From here they spread west, east and north from the Himalayas to occupy Europe, China and Siberia, and even up into the Arctic Circle. Upon being sent examples of the orchid in 1862, Charles Darwin predicted that there must exist a moth with a tongue long enough to feed upon it, but it was not until 1903 that the moth was finally discovered. THE HISTORY OF BEES by Maja Lunde ‧ RELEASE DATE: Aug. 22, 2017 Three interwoven tales from 1851, 2007, and 2098 tell the story of our dependency on bees. As our ancestors spread out from Africa, many of the large mammals such as mammoths, giant sloths and sabretoothed tigers swiftly disappeared, either hunted to extinction by man or driven to extinction because their prey disappeared. Depictions of humans collecting honey from wild bees date to 10,000 years ago. The History of Bees] is reminiscent of the 1998 art film The Red Violin, in that it weaves together three fairly disparate stories spread across the better part of two and a half centuries. “The History of Bees” was a bestseller in Norway and Germany; it won the 2015 Norwegian booksellers’ award, and rights have been sold in more than 15 countries. About 20 million years ago bumblebees crossed from Siberia to North America, where they thrived and spread southwards. The earliest bees, 130 million years ago, were almost certainly solitary species, and the majority of present-day bee species remain so. Let us travel back in time 135 million years. These range from the giant leaf eating bee, which is over 3cm long to the tiny dwarf bee which is just 2mm long. One hundred and thirty-five million years ago almost all plants scattered their pollen on the wind and hoped against hope that a tiny proportion of it would, by chance, land on a female flower. The plant equivalent of sperm is pollen, and the challenge facing a plant is how to get its pollen to the female reproductive parts of another plant; not easy if one is rooted to the ground. At this ancient time, an era known to geologists as the Cretaceous, the continents were clothed in green forests of tree ferns, cycads, huge horsetails, and conifers such as pines and cedars. He discovered that bees would keep a 'bee sized' pathway clear within a hive if it was between 6 and 8mm wide. As the famous biologist E. O. Wilson said, ‘If all mankind were to disappear, the world would regenerate back to the rich state of equilibrium that existed ten thousand years ago. These are advanced social bees that live in vast colonies, so it is a pretty good guess that the earliest bees were on the wing long before this. Most flowering plants cannot self-pollinate and pollination that relies on the wind to carry their seed is not very efficient, so flowers evolved with bright colours and markings to attract bees and to ensure that they were rewarded for the pollination service provided them with a nutritious nectar too. In Ancient Egypt and the Middle East, it was used to embalm the dead. Two hundred and fifty of the known species are bumblebees (members of the genus Bombus, of which twenty seven occur naturally in the UK). Domestication of bees is shown in Egyptian art from around 4,500 years ago. This is, as you might imagine, a very inefficient and wasteful system, with perhaps 99.99 per cent of the pollen going to waste – falling on the ground or blowing out to sea. Tao hand paints pollen onto the fruit trees now that the bees have long since disappeared. To start with, insects had to seek out the unimpressive brown or green flowers amongst the surrounding foliage. The Gibb Brothers made their mark on the music world in the 1970s, becoming prime artists of the disco era. I was once involved in a rather strange and less welcome instance of a solitary bee impacting on humans. Although much of the pollen was consumed by the insects, this was still a vast improvement for the plants compared to scattering their pollen to the wind. Most would have had no defence against groups of men hunting with spears and bows and arrows. Both Deborah and Melissa mean "bee", in Hebrew and Greek respectively. About 1.4 million have been named so far, but estimates as to the true total vary hugely from 2 million to 100 million. A small but vital instrument, which measures airspeed and controls the speed of rotation of the rear rotor had failed, and the British manufacturers of the instrument found themselves under suspicion of supplying dangerously defective components. Sometimes, women and their families came from miles away just to attend a quilting bee. Upon close examination, it transpired that the cause of the fault was a plug of a sticky yellow substance blocking a tiny but necessary hole in the instrument casing. Early history. The earliest recorded Bee was found in Myanmar. The bees drink the nectar and transport it in a special stomach back to the hive to share with the Queen, of course, and also to feed the hive bees and the larvae which will become the new bees. Amazingly, representatives of many of the smaller groups of organisms survived somehow. At present, species are going extinct at somewhere between 100 and 1,000 times the natural rate, largely driven by habitat destruction and the ravages wrought by invasive species. The Bee Gees are musical legends. The history of the bee The honeybee is a highly sophisticated insect that has evolved over millions of years. Actually, there are enormous numbers of wasp species, most of whom are nothing like this. Some species grew much larger, filling the roles once occupied by dinosaurs; these included ground sloths that stood 6 metres tall and weighed 3 tonnes, and the vast rhinoceros-like Uintatherium. The honey bee we discuss throughout this website is Apis mellifera or Western Honeybee.More specifically though early American bees where brought from a variety of regions, including Germany, France, and England. The most specialised and successful group to emerge were the bees, the masters of gathering nectar and pollen to this day. Other wasp species catch prey and feed them to their grubs in small nests, and it is from one such wasp family, the Sphecidae, that bees evolved. These were the first birds. So far as the sparse fossil record reveals, the main insect groups – bees, ants, grasshoppers, beetles and so on – seem to have recovered swiftly, although it is likely that countless individual insect species became extinct. Honey bees (Apis mellifera) are an insect that has not exactly been domesticated: but humans have learned how to manage them, by providing them with hives so we can more easily steal the honey and wax from them. Burt Shavitz and Roxanne Quimby created Burt’s Bees in the early 1980s. Nectar is expensive for plants to produce, and therefore many flowers evolved over time to hide their nectar, ensuring that only the insects most likely to provide them with a reliable pollen delivery service can reach it. The History of Bees imagines a world where bees no longer exist, food is in short supply, and humanity depends on the brute labor of hand pollination in order to sustain itself. When it returned from a foraging trip, the bee was presumably rather disappointed to find that its nest had vanished. In the leafcutter bees, for instance, the pollen is stored among dense hairs on the underside of the abdomen, so that the bees often appear to have bright yellow bellies. They attack a broad range of insects and spiders, with different wasp species preferring aphids, grasshoppers or beetles. To learn more about this global crisis and join the fight to save the bees, check out the many resources at savebees.org. Eventually about 4 million years ago a handful of species moved down through the mountain chains of Central America to occupy South America, becoming the only naturally occurring bumblebees in the southern hemisphere. It appears they are more intelligent than humans. The service of pollinating flowers is important for farming, but it also serves another essential purpose regarding improving the floral landscapes of the planet. The flowering plants also survived, presumably as dormant seeds. As pollen is rich in protein, it would have provided a good nutritional supplement, particularly at times when prey was scarce. However, the bravery was worth it because it seems humankind had, in preparation, already developed a sweet tooth. Bees in turn belong to the immensely successful insect order the Hymenoptera, which also includes ants and the wasps from which bees evolved, of which there are 115,000 known species. In their former lives, Burt worked as a photojournalist in Manhattan, and Roxanne was an artist living in San Francisco. If insects were to vanish, the environment would collapse into chaos.’ Bees fall into four groups: Honeybees, including the Africanized honeybee and Cornish Bee. What could have been a didactic book becomes something all-together different. This discovery is often sited as the start of modern beekeeping. Occasionally, insects become trapped in tree resin which fossilises to amber, beautifully preserving them for eternity. At some point a species of sphecid wasp experimented with stocking its nest with pollen instead of dead insects. The innovation unique to bees is that the adult females gather the food for their offspring, so that their larvae do not need to move at all. So important were these activities that parents named their children after the bees. This corresponded with a period of cooler temperatures, which may have encouraged bees to become larger and furrier. Few of us know that there are over 20,000 species, and that fewer than 10 of these species produce honey. It also enabled the beekeeper to start manipulating the colony; helping it develop and grow. Crawling insects such as ants seem to have become trapped most often, but it seems that bees were rarely so foolish and examples of bee fossils are particularly few. The book contains the stories of Tao, William and George and each have a relation to bees. The bee genus Apis occurs naturally in Europe, Asia, and Africa. Today bees live all over the world and there are approximately 20,000 species. In fact it wasn't until Egyptian times that peoples started to keep bees at home. This could have been a gradual process, with the wasp initially adding just a little pollen to the nest provisions. When the wasp eventually evolved to feed its offspring purely on pollen, it had become the first bee. 19 hours ago — Corbin Hiar and E&E News, January 22, 2021 — Ewan Morgan | Opinion. Each left behind the harried pace of city life to seek—and eventually find—freedom in the remote, pristine wilderness of Maine. Our best guess is that the first bumblebee lived somewhere in the mountains of central Asia, since this is still the area of greatest bumblebee diversity. However, in the last few thousand years it has started to drop rapidly as man has remoulded the surface of the planet. This was such an interesting and unique concept. Haunting, illuminating, and deftly written, The History of Bees joins “the past, the present, and a terrifying future in a riveting story as complex as a honeycomb” (New York Times bestselling author Bryn Greenwood) that is just as much about the powerful bond between children and parents as it is about our very relationship to nature and humanity. Once hatched, the grubs consume their hosts from the inside out, eventually bursting out of the dying bodies to form their pupae. Haunting, illuminating, and deftly written, The History of Bees joins “the past, the present, and a terrifying future in a riveting story as complex as a honeycomb” (New York Times bestselling author Bryn Greenwood) that is just as much about the powerful bond between children and parents as it is about our very relationship to nature and humanity. Relying on their top-notch songwriting and impeccable vocals, the Bee Gees were able to craft a long-running career that began in the late '50s in Australia. Insects are responsible for delivering numerous ‘ecosystem services’ such as pollination and decomposition, and there is no doubt that little life on earth (including ourselves) could survive without them. Along the way they became a hit-producing psychedelic pop group in England during the '60s and the biggest disco band in the world in the '70s, and had a late comeback as adult contemporary crooners in the '90s. Bees are flying insects closely related to wasps and ants, known for their role in pollination and, in the case of the best-known bee species, the western honey bee, for producing honey.Bees are a monophyletic lineage within the superfamily Apoidea.They are presently considered a clade, called Anthophila.There are over 16,000 known species of bees in seven recognized biological families. There has been long debate among entomologists on just how many different species there are. Over the millennia, bees have adapted to feeding on flowers in various ways. They generally eat fallen fruit and other insects, such as flies and caterpillars.Adult wasps often feed on nectar.Wasps seem to enjoy sweet food which is why they will often be near a fizzy drink left outside.Wasps have been seen going into bee’s nests to eat the honey and bee larvae.Bees are pollinators and they generally eat pollen and nectar from many different flowers.Pollen is a powdery substance produced … Flying from plant to plant in search of their food, these insects accidentally carried pollen grains upon their bodies, trapped amongst hairs or in the joints between their segments. The honeybee is a highly sophisticated insect that has evolved over millions of years. The oldest known bee in amber is about 80 million years old, and is of a type known as a stingless bee, similar to species that live today in South America. The bees were subdued with smoke and the tree or rocks opened resulting in destruction of the colony. To recap, bees first appeared perhaps 130 million years ago, and by 80 million years ago some had evolved a social lifestyle, for the earliest fossil is of a social stingless bee. Different plants now began vying with one another for insect attention, evolving bright colours, patterns and elaborate shapes, and the land became clothed in flowers. Studies of the similarity of the DNA in wasps and bees suggest that the first bees appeared about 130 million years ago, 50 million years before the first known fossil bee, and probably very shortly after the first flowers evolved in the Cretaceous. Honey was the most important sweetener for food and alcoholic drinks in ancient times. It's unclear exactly when bees decided to become vegetarian but considering the choice between eating a fly and some delicious, sweet tasting nectar from a cherry tree in full bloom, it seems like a good decision. It is estimated that one species goes extinct every twenty minutes. The early solution, and one still used by some plants to this day, is to use the wind. The History of Bees tells three separate stories, all intrinsically linked by bees, weaving through a combination of future dystopian, historical fiction and contemporary literature. It was found encased in amber and has been dated as 100 million years old. This discovery was important because it led to the development of hives with moveable frames of comb. The female of these wasps lays her eggs inside other insects, injecting them through a sharply pointed egg-laying tube. As a result they had to produce an awful lot. This allowed the beekeeper to remove comb and honey without destroying the hive. It was indeed pollen, identifiable as belonging to some species of legume, no doubt placed there by a small solitary bee which had adopted the hole as its nest while the aircraft was parked. Let us return to our journey through time. The South Atlantic and Indian Oceans were slowly forming. They are entirely dependent on the food provided by the adult bees. For the early hunter gatherers who hadn't yet developed the beesuit and veil, collecting honey was as painful as picking up a burning stick. Before long the earth was once again teeming with life, albeit with rather smaller forms. ; Bumblebees; Stingless bees (be careful: not to be mistaken with male) * The record holder is not a bee, but a hawkmoth, Xanthopan morganii, which has a tongue of about 30 centimetres long (the moth itself being 6 centimetres long). The life cycles are very variable, but usually the female does not care further for her offspring, simply sealing up the nest entrance and leaving them to eat their pollen and develop on their own. A little backstory here: Shavitz is the founder of Burt's Bees, hence the fortune. He named the discovery 'spazio di ape' (or 'bee space' in English). I want to learn more about bees! In those early days, the bees were more like wasps, eating other insects rather than nectar and pollen. Most solitary bees in temperate climates have just one generation a year, so the offspring will sometimes spend eleven months developing in the nest before emerging as adults. So far, only three bumblebees are thought to have gone extinct globally: Bombus rubriventris, Bombus melanopoda and Bombus franklini, but surely more will follow. The first bees evolved from wasps, which were and remain predators today. The world is blessed with an extraordinary diversity of species of organism. It was found encased in amber and has been dated as 100 million years old. The larval stage is maggot-like, legless and generally rather feeble, being defenceless and capable of only very limited movement. A great many are parasitoids, with a gruesome lifestyle from which the sci-fi film Alien surely took its inspiration. Some 65 million years after the first bees appeared (and, coincidentally, 65 million years before the present), the earth went through a catastrophic change. Early beehives, such as the skep, were not designed for long term use. This shawl is inspired by the book ‘The History of bees’ by Maja Lunde. Only rarely do the lives of these inconspicuous creatures impinge noticeably on our own, although they probably contribute substantially to pollination of many crops without us being aware of it (honeybees often get all the credit). Bees have long been associated with witches and witchcraft: one Lincolnshire witch was said to have a bumblebee as her familiar animal, another witch from Scotland allegedly poisoned a child in the form of a bee, and in Nova Scotia a male witch was accused of killing a cow by sending a white bumblebee to land on it." Our own ancestors at this time were rather unimpressively small, rat-like creatures skulking in the undergrowth, nervously coming out at night to nibble on insects, seeds and fallen fruit. Each female builds her own nest, usually in a small hole in the ground, or in a tree or wall. Sex has always been difficult for plants, because they cannot move. Exactly how long ago this happened we do not know for insects rarely form fossils, and so we have to piece together their history from parse information. The shawl is inspired by their stories and we will crochet our way from Tao’s story as a polinator, to George’s story as a beekeeper to Williams story as a hive designer. The History of Bees Maja Lunde Review by Thane Tierney. The earliest recorded Bee was found in Myanmar. And no matter how hard we listened, we would not hear the distinctive drone of bees. In the leafcutter bees, the nest is lined with neatly snipped semicircles of leaves, glued together with silk. This becomes clear on the first page, a chapter titled “Tao” and set in a district in Sichuan, China, in the year 2098. Much smaller dinosaurs had also taken to the air; feathers, probably first evolved to help these little creatures keep warm, became elongated on their forelegs to allow gliding and, eventually, active flight. As well as crop pollination scientists believe that bees are responsible for the rich flower diversity we enjoy today. San Diego Bees - History & Importance of Bees & Beekeeping. Number: 05028498 VAT Number: GB837106436 It was into this world of giants that the first bumblebees appeared, about 30 to 40 million years ago. If we could travel to this ancient land, we might be too concerned with the dangers posed by the larger wildlife to notice that there were no flowers; no orchids, buttercups or daisies, no cherry blossoms, no foxgloves in the wooded glades. Haunting, illuminating, and deftly written, The History of Bees joins these three very different narratives into one gripping and thought provoking story that is just as much about the powerful relationships between children and parents as it is about our very relationship to nature and humanity. Haunting, illuminating, and deftly written, The History of Bees joins "the past, the present, and a terrifying future in a riveting story as complex as a honeycomb" (New York Times bestselling author Bryn Greenwood) that is just as much about the powerful bond between children and parents as it is about our very relationship to nature and humanity. The first bees existed around 130 million years ago at a time when our own ancestors were small, ratlike creatures. Nature abhors waste, and it was only a matter of time before the blind stumbling of evolution arrived at a better solution in the form of insects. So began the longest marketing campaign in history, with the early water lilies and magnolias the first plants to evolve petals, conspicuously white against the forests of green. Discover world-changing science. It was now to the advantage of plants to advertise the location of their flowers, so that they could be more quickly found and to attract insects away from their competitors. Were it not for the meteor, it is doubtful if most of the larger mammals – including ourselves – would ever have appeared. “The History of Bees” is not really the history of bees. Most scientists these days agree that a meteor struck the earth roughly where the Yucatan Peninsula now lies, causing tidal waves and massive volcanic eruptions which filled the air with so much dust that it blocked out the sunlight, in turn causing temperatures to fall below freezing for months or years on end. August 22, 2017 Most of us don’t think about bees that much. With this new reliable means of pollination, insect-pollinated plants became enormously successful and diversified. May I use some of this material on my beekeeping related website please ? Copyright © 2014. There are about 25,000 known species of bee (superfamily Apoidea, with 253 known from the UK), but many more undoubtedly remain to be discovered, particularly in the tropical regions. All bees feed more or less exclusively on nectar and pollen throughout their lives. It is difficult to appreciate in today's world of convenience, high tech wizardry, junk food and sugar substitutes, the value of honey. Subscribers get more award-winning coverage of advances in science & technology. Their harmonies were infectious, their records memorable, and their production and songwriting skills highly praised. The system only worked if the colony produced enough bees to create a swarm, which would be caught and go on to provide the honey in the following year. Many bees evolved longer and longer tongues to make it easier for them to reach nectar hidden within flowers; some now have tongues longer than their bodies. It is the threat of extinction of large mammals such as tigers or rhinoceros that tends to capture the public’s attention, but arguably it is the loss of the smaller creatures that should give us most concern. Explore our digital archive back to 1845, including articles by more than 150 Nobel Prize winners. Beekeeping in pottery vessels began about 9,000 years ago in North Africa. Norwegian author Lunde puts imagination and research to work in this message-driven novel set in a gloomy past, a doomed modernity, and a dystopian future. Bumblebees for example live in burrows in the ground. thanks, holmes. Most other bees do not live in colonies preferring a more solitary existence. Pollen is very nutritious. Honey Bees have been present in human history for over 6,000 years (Bee Wilson), and beekeeping/ honey hunting can be traced back to the Mesolithic Era and further (Jones, Sweeny-Lynch, 26). Their investigations suggested that the substance might be pollen, which was when I was brought in. Many species have become hairy, which helps them to brush pollen from flowers, and also to hold it in flight. Scientific American is part of Springer Nature, which owns or has commercial relations with thousands of scientific publications (many of them can be found at, A Sting in the Tale: My Adventures with Bumblebees. The Hymenoptera in turn are just one of many types of insect, collectively the most successful group of organisms on earth, with about 1 million named species, or about 70 per cent of all known species on earth. The Egyptian hive design was a simple upturned straw basket called a skep. A breakthrough discovery in beekeeping was made by a man called Lorenzo Langstroth. The History of Bees is a novel of ideas but it is enlivened by unexpected characters. The novel, which focuses on what happens when all the bees disappear, takes a unique approach to this potential ecological disaster. Our own ancestors – small, furry and warm-blooded – may have kept themselves alive by feeding on the corpses of larger animals or on stores of seeds and nuts, and perhaps by keeping warm in the vast drifts of rotting vegetation that resulted from the forests’ death. It has been sought as an antiseptic and sweetener for at least 100,000 years. The earliest bees, 130 million years ago, were almost certainly solitary species, and the majority of present-day bee species remain so. © Omlet 2004, 2021. Bees are flying insects of the Hymenoptera, which also includes ants, wasps and sawflies.There are about 20,000 species of bees. Solitary bee species tend to be small, dark or drably coloured, which is why people seldom notice them. At the outset, the connections between the three are opaque, but Lunde’s compelling narrative draws the reader in. very fine material for research on symbolism of bees for a public lecture. Nonetheless many are quite common and often live in gardens, some even nesting in the old mortar between the bricks of our houses. Originally published in Great Britain by Jonathan Cape, a division of Random House Group, Ltd. In bumblebees and honeybees, stiff bristles on the hind legs form a basket into which pollen is placed. As these plants proliferated, so the opportunities for insects to specialise grew, and butterflies and some flies evolved long, tubular mouthparts with which to suck up nectar. In the Sphecidae the female wasps stock a nest, usually an underground burrow, with the corpses, or the paralysed but still living bodies, of their preferred prey. The air swarmed with primitive insects including oversized dragonflies and early butterflies, and this was also the heyday of the pterosaurs, the largest animals ever to fly above the earth, with wingspans up to 12 metres. Book: The History of Bees Author: Maja Lunde Review by: Martin Richenhagen, Chairman, President, and CEO of AGCO Corporation Martin Richenhagen “As someone who has spent… There was a desperate need for a way of keeping the same colony of bees year after year so that more honey could be produced and the apiary expanded. Not only did these bees provide a chance for women to create a handmade quilt, but they were also an important social event. Bees collect pollen from flowers.Bees can be found on all continents except Antarctica.. This moth feeds upon the Madagascar star orchid Angraecum sesquipedale, in which nectar is hidden at the base of spurs 30 centimetres deep, in a beautiful example of co-evolution. 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