May 2, 2012

Honeybee on lavender     Photo: Ryan Wick/Flickr

Massive Beehive Found in Historic Home

Hive grew despite bee decline

The owners of a 1860s-era Cape May, New Jersey, home last week found a thriving colony of 30,000 honeybees—and 25 pounds of honey—living in their attic. Victoria Clayton and Richard White noticed a stream of forager bees hauling pollen and nectar from their garden to a third-floor laundry vent. Gary Schempp, an exterminator-turned-bee-rescuer, excavated the hive from beneath the floorboards and relocated them to his apiary. "A comb this size and this active could have caused huge problems for this structure," Schempp said. Colony collapse disorder and a slew of virulent pathogens have decimated honeybee populations in the last half-decade.

Read more at The Philadelphia Inquirer

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Finless porpoise     Photo: ori2uru/Wikimedia Commons

32 Rare Porpoises Found Dead in China

Species' survival in doubt

The deaths in China of 32 Yangtze finless porpoises over the past two months is fueling fears among conservationists that the endangered marine mammal may be headed for extinction. The porpoises, of which only an estimated 1,000 remain in the wild, are under pressure from pollution and food shortages caused by the construction of hydroelectric dams along the Yangtze; at least two of the animals recovered were killed by electrofishing or boat propellers. A 2007 report by China's State Environmental Protection Administration found that 30 percent of the river's tributaries were badly polluted. The International Union for Conservation of Nature is currently considering whether to declare the Yangtze porpoises critically endangered.

Read more at Mongabay.com

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Hypodermic Needle     Photo: Steven Depolo/Flickr

Bio Passport Catches Portuguese Runner

Ornelas first runner banned under program

The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) on Wednesday announced a four-year ban for Portuguese marathon runner Helder Ornelas as a result of an abnormal blood profile detected by the Biological Passport program. Scientists first noted abnormalities in Ornelas' blood in May 2011. Further study suggested that the abnormalities could only have been caused by the use of performance-enhancing drugs. In a statement, the IAAF said there "was no known reasonable explanation for abnormalities observed in Ornelas' blood profile other than use of a prohibited substance or a prohibited method." Ornelas finished 46th at the 2008 Olympic marathon in Beijing. He did not appeal the decision.

Read more at Reuters

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    Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Polar Bears Can Swim Hundreds of Miles

Bodes well for survival in warming climate

A study published in the Canadian Journal of Zoology on Tuesday found that polar bears in the Arctic are able to swim far greater distances than previously believed. Between 2004 and 2009, researchers used GPS-enabled collars to track 52 female polar bears in the southern Beaufort Sea off the coast of Alaska. Several bears were observed making swims of around 100 miles, including one bear that swam nearly 220 miles over the course of 10 days. The study is further evidence that melting sea ice may cause polar bears to expend significant energy as they travel through the Arctic, possibly putting them at greater risk of starvation.

Read more at Reuters

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Homage to Ozti the Iceman     Photo: Artnow314/Flickr

Blood Cells Found on Otzi the Iceman

Cells are 5,300 years old

A team of scientists from Germany and Italy have identified red blood cells from the 5,300-year-old body of Oetzi the Iceman, the oldest human blood cells ever observed. Researchers found the red blood cells around an arrow wound that is believed to have killed Otzi, likely disproving a theory that he died several days after receiving the injury. The technique used to examine the Iceman's blood might also be used to study Egyptian mummies. European scientists sequenced the Otzi's genome in February.

Read more at BBC

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