The Great American Eclipse of 2017 was the first total solar eclipse to cross the United States in 99 years and the first time that scientists observed bees exhibit weird behavior during the natural phenomenon.
The world is busy trying to save the bees, which were found to be capable of complex decision making like humans. However, a new study revealed something that we do not yet know about the little insects.
What Did Bees Do During Total Solar Eclipse?
A study published in the Annals of the Entomological Society of America focused on the behavior of bees during the Great American Eclipse, which happened in August last year. Apparently, when the world went dark as the moon completely blocked the sun, the bees went silent.
Researchers from the University of Missouri, with the help of elementary school children and volunteers, set up acoustic monitoring stations to listen to bees on Aug. 21, the day of the Great American Eclipse. The stations contained USB microphones that were the size of flash drives suspended over bee-pollinated flowers that are far away from people and vehicles.
The researchers thought that bees would become less active as the sunlight dimmed. However, what they did not expect is how abrupt the change would become. The bees were flying as the solar eclipse started, and then suddenly stopped as soon as it totality hit, according to Candace Galen, the lead researcher and a University of Missouri professor of biological sciences.
“It was like ‘lights out’ at summer camp. That surprised us,” Galen said.
Why Did The Bees Go Silent?
It is common for bees to fly more slowly by dusk as they return to their colonies to sleep at night. The darkness of the total solar eclipse mimicked dusk to night conditions, triggering the behavior.
The vibrations of wing muscles are the source of the buzzing of bees. By going silent, it simply meant that bees stopped using their wings. Apparently, the bees were also amazed by the Great American Eclipse, just as the people dropped everything to take a look at the first total solar eclipse in the United States in almost a century.