Articles (such as Honey Bees at the Whitehouse)

The Buzz: What Bees Tell Us About Global Climate

The Buzz: What Bees Tell Us About Global Climate

June 2, 2010

by: by Sharon Tregaskis (From Johns Hopkins Magazine)

Standing in the apiary on the grounds of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Bee Research Laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, Wayne Esaias, A&S ’67, digs through the canvas shoulder bag leaning against his leg in search of the cable he uses to download data. It’s dusk as he runs the cord from his laptop—precariously perched on the beam of a cast-iron platform scale—to a small, battery-operated data logger attached to the spring inside the scale’s steel column. In the 1800s, a scale like this would have weighed sacks of grain or crates of apples, peaches, and melons. Since arriving at the USDA’s bee lab in January 2007, this scale has been loaded with a single item: a colony of Apis mellifera, the fuzzy, black-and-yellow honey bee. An attached, 12-bit recorder captures the hive’s weight to within a 10th of a pound, along with a daily register of relative ambient humidity and temperature.

Esaias downloads data from bee hives at Mink Hollow Apiary, which he maintains in his backyard in Highland, Maryland Photo: Elaine Esaias

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From the South Lawn, as Sweet Smell of Honey

 South Lawn, as Sweet Smell of Honey

White House Bees

Honey Bees Weigh In on Climate (Animation)

This animation illustrates the relationship between the annual vegetation cycle and seasonal variations in the weights of honey bee hives. The weight of a hive increases in the spring as bees bring back nectar from flowering plants. The change in hive weight over time can be compared with satellite measurements of vegetation. Tracking a large number of hives this way can reveal the effects of changing climate and land use on the interaction of plants and pollinators. Data from this hive in Highland, Maryland and others suggests that for some locations in the U.S., spring is arriving earlier by as much as half a day per year, probably due to a combination of climate and the warming effect of urbanization. (Link to Animation)


This animation has been incorporated into the video "Feeling the Sting of Climate Change," which provides more background and introduces HoneyBeeNet, a central repository for hive weight data from across the U.S.

Feeling the Sting of Climate Change (Animation)

NASA research scientist Wayne Esaias uses honey bees as tiny data collectors to understand how climate change is affecting pollination. His citizen-scientist project, HoneyBeeNet, compares bee data from across North America to satellite imagery in order to gain a big-picture perspective of how our warming climate is affecting both plants and pollinators. (Link to Animation)

NASA's Wayne Esaias sees honeybees as important data collectors to help us understand our changing climate.


Honey Bees and Climate Change (animation)

Flowering plants rely on pollinators like honey bees to reproduce. Honey bees, in turn, rely on flowering plants for food - in the form on nectar and pollen. The two animations below illustrate how an earlier springtime could cause plants and pollinators to shift out of sync.

Visit Goddard Multimedia Center on "Honey Bees and Climate Change Animations"

MSBA Tee shirt sale


MSBA is selling Tee Shirts.  Additional information on purchasing, please go to the MSBA (website)


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Queen's Contrivance.

The purpose of this website is to promote honey beekeeping by providing a forum in which current honey beekeepers may become more knowledgeable of best practices and the public can become more, and accurately, informed on the benefits of honey bees. For more info or comments, contact Jeff Crooks at