Bees are awesome. Full stop. Yet here’s more reasons to marvel at our bewinged friends: despite their tiny little brains, they can adapt their behavior, make use of “tools”, and solve more complex problems than we humans originally thought. All with the help of fellow bees or puppets.
Yes, you heard right. Puppets!
In findings recently published in Science, cognitive scientist Clint Perry demonstrated that bees could learn to roll a ball to a designated location in order to receive a delicious reward of sugar water. And if they couldn’t work it out themselves?
If a bee couldn’t figure out how to get the reward, a researcher would demonstrate using a puppet — a plastic bee on the end of a stick — to scoot the ball from the edge of the platform to the center.
“Bees that saw this demonstration learned very quickly how to solve the task. They started rolling the ball into the center; they got better over time,” says Perry.
What’s more, bees watching their cohorts receive these rewards would then adapt their behavior and find ways to get that sweet sugar water faster and more efficiently.
“It wasn’t monkey see, monkey do. They improved on the strategy that they saw,” says Perry. “This all shows an unprecedented level of cognitive flexibility, especially for a miniature brain.”
Click HERE to read or listen to NPR’s story on these smarty bees. They even suggest bees could learn to fetch!
NPR’s The Salt spoke to American farmers growing products (strawberries) in and outsourcing their products (milk, powdered) to Mexico. And no doubt, these industrial farmers will either pay more to import and export their crops and could lose potential markets. Given, however, that NAFTA’s effect on small and medium farms in this country– which we rarely mentioned in the discussion– has been largely detrimental, and NAFTA’s effect on small farmers in Mexico has been unequivocally disastrous, we wonder how this conversation could be extended to address small-scale sustainable agriculture. Greenhorns, policy buffs, what do you think? Surely, it is not always true that what is bad for industrialized ag is good for sustainable ag, but….
What do you think, Greenhorns, specifically our economics buffs out there, what will it mean for young agrarians and small farms if the US “ditches NAFTA?”
Currently one of the most plentiful fished fish on the East Coast is actually a shark called dogfish, and yet most Americans have hardly even heard of it. So where are the catches going? Turns out, 90% of the fish Americans eat is imported, whereas 99% of dogfish is exported other places.
We don’t often see mainstream media outlets report on the often invisible farm workers that hold up so much of American agriculture– let alone do in depth and humanizing interviews with them. So, in case you missed it, we wanted to bring your attention to a series created by Dan Charles for NPR’s The Salt in which Charles interviews the largely-Hispanic migrant immigrant workers on sweet potato, apple, orange, strawberry, and blueberry farms. Even for those of us who have worked on smaller-scale farms, a look into the lives of workers on these gigantic combines is both fascinating and critical. We can’t recommend a listen more highly.
You can read Charles’s summary of his findings here and follow his links to listen to each piece individually.
Greenhorns blogger Eliza Greenman is featured on NPR, the Weather Channel and Food&Wine this week in regards to her work on #eatuglyapples!
Food&Wine: Bruised and scabbed apples have more antioxidants and sugars because they’ve fought off natural stressors.
Grocery shoppers don’t generally make a beeline to the scabbed and blemished apples. But maybe they should. New research shows that trauma to the fruit—stresses from fighting heat, bugs, and fungus—forces apples to produce antioxidants such as flavonoids, phenolic acids, anthocyanins and carotenoids. And these compounds have all kinds of nutritional value.
Proponents of organic meat often make the case that it’s inherently better for people’s health and the environment than meat raised by conventional farming methods. But the actual impacts of organic production can be tough for scientists to prove.
A study out today in Environmental Health Perspectives adds some weight to the argument that organic poultry, at least, may reduce one type of health risk. A team of scientists from the University of Maryland and other universities found that large-scale organic poultry farms — which are not allowed to use antibiotics to prevent disease in the animals — had significantly lower levels of one group of drug-resistant bacteria than their conventional counterparts.
The study comes at a time when antibiotic use in industrial livestock production is under heavy fire from the public health community. Farmers who raise food-producing animals use about 29 million pounds of antibiotics each year, according to the Food and Drug Administration, and the latest Salmonella outbreak in ground turkey turned out to be caused by a strain resistant to several antibiotics.o prevent disease in the animals — had significantly lower levels of one group of drug-resistant bacteria than their conventional counterparts.