On August 21st, 2017 a total solar eclipse traveled a north-west to south-east path across the United States.
Some even called the event the “Great American Eclipse”.
A number of researchers from various scientific disciplines used the occasion to conduct experiments.
Researchers at the University of Missouri, led by Candace Galen, Ph.D., a professor of biological sciences, put together a group of citizen scientists along with elementary students and their teachers to help them study how a total solar eclipse affects the behavior of bees.
So, the researchers placed 16 acoustic monitoring stations along the total eclipse path in the US states of Oregon, Idaho, and Missouri.
The monitoring stations, which included tiny microphones and temperature sensors, were placed in locations where bees would congregate such as flower patches.
As the total eclipse passed over each monitoring station the researchers listened for the sound of bees buzzing or as they found out not buzzing.
The researchers say the realized that during the periods of totality, the bees took a break from their daily routines.
“Getting dark in the middle of the day is not something that happens in a bee’s normal life,” said Galen in a university press release. “It’s a behavioral miscue. Here darkness is a cue for night that a bee is familiar with, but it’s coming at the wrong time of the day. Did they use it as a cue or not, even if it is completely out of context? What we found is yes, they do,” she added.
A study outlining the scientist’s research and findings were recently published Annals of the Entomological Society of America.
Candace Galen and her University of Missouri team say they’re looking forward to the next American total solar eclipse that will take place on April 8, 2024.
She says her team is making improvements to their audio-analysis software so that they would be able to distinguish the flights that the bees make when they either leave or return to their colonies.
Galen says that she hopes they’ll find out whether bees are able to make their way back home when the Sun is totally eclipsed by the Moon.