Last summer's total solar eclipse had a very strange effect on bees
We know how much bees affect our ecosystem (hint: a lot), but we didn’t know how much one part of our ecosystem—the cosmos (yeah, yeah, calling the cosmos a part of our ecosystem is a stretch, but just go with it)—can affect them. According to a study published today, October 10th, the summer 2017 total solar eclipse had a very profound effect on our beloved bumblebees.
According to a study published in Oxford Academic’s Annals of the Entomological Society of America, the bees definitely took notice when the total eclipse hit North America on August 21st, 2017, even though they weren’t trying to find eclipse glasses for weeks beforehand like the rest of us. During the eclipse, they basically disappeared. And when there was complete darkness, they stopped flying entirely.
The dimmer light that happened before and after totality didn’t faze the bees at all. Total darkness, though? Apparently, they weren’t fans.
The way the study uncovered this information is pretty interesting, too; microphones were placed near bee-pollinated flowers to monitor the vibrations the insects make with their wings—a buzzing sound. The microphones didn’t pick up the buzzing during totality, which is how scientists know the bees weren’t moving while it was completely dark.
Solar eclipses affect all kinds of animals—including dogs, according to The Bark—so it makes sense that bees would show strange behavior, too. After all, it has to be pretty jarring for the sun to disappear without knowing why or even that it was going to happen. Poor bees!
As far as we’re concerned, this is just another reason to protect the bees at all costs. And maybe before the next total solar eclipse, someone could fill them in on what’s about to happen so they don’t freak out.