Thunderstorm in the Hive! Bees can produce electricity up to 1000 volts, camera shows

A new research published in the journal iScience has explained that a swarm of honey bees can generate as much electricity as a thunderstorm.

Can you believe swarms of honeybees can help in electricity generation? Yes! A new research published in the journal iScience has suggested that swarms of honeybees can generate as much electrical charge as a thunderstorm. Researchers from the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom have found this.

Biologist Ellard Hunting, first author on the study, has informed CNN that the Bristol team was studying about different organisms that use the static electric fields available in the environment. Atmospheric electricity even affects weather events and helps organisms in their functions like finding food.

Explaining the study, Hunting said, “For instance, flowers have an electric field and bees can sense these fields. And these electric fields of flowers can change when it has been visited by a bee, and other bees can use that information to see whether a flower has been visited. ”

The researchers have set up equipment comprising several honeybee hives to measure atmospheric electric fields at the university’s field station. Their research team has noticed that a bees’ swarm has created a profound effect on atmospheric electric fields even without the weather having changed.

As shared in the study, the insects do create a charge during flight as a result of friction in the air. However, the size of the charge varies between species. Since individual bees’ charge is pretty small, it wasn’t noticed earlier and hence “this effect (in swarming bees) came as a surprise,” Hunting said.

The researchers used a camera to record and electric field monitors to measure currents during the honeybee swarms. It takes place when a hive is overcrowded, with the queen bee leaving with around 12000 worker bees, noted study.

The monitors tracked the currents for around three minutes at a time as the swarms passed over them, and charges captured ranged from 100 to 1000 volts per meter. The thicker the swarm was, the greater the electric field.


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