Scientific Talk Writeup Guidelines & Deadline

youretheexpertprogrampg_copyIf you have not yet submitted your summary of the talk or event you attended, please submit your discussion of the event in the form of a review for a department newsletter or community/student newspaper. Your review should clear describe what the event focused on, who the presenter was, how the information pertains to Biology topics we have covered (wether directly or indirectly) and why the talk was or wasn’t valuable. Your review should be like all good reviews: coherent, clear and engaging; no bullet points (unless judiciously used), no copying of event description text from a website or flyer (you may of course quote the speaker).  Continue reading


Final Assignment: the biology of bees!

k10336As a way to review for the final exam, the questions in this assignment apply concepts we’ve discussed to honey bees. Please submit this final homework assignment to the usual email address with the subject line “Final Assignment” by 4pm on Monday, May 2nd so that we can discuss these questions during class time if there is any interest in doing so.

Read chapters 1 – 4 of The Bee: A Natural History and answer the following questions with clear explanations. Mention (no need to formally cite) any sources of additional information you use in formulating your explanations.

12862_2013_Article_2375_Fig2_HTML1. Chapter 3 gives a nice description of the extent to which different bees are social. What is eusociality and how do you think group selection may have given rise to eusocial bees?
2. According to Wikipedia…

When a honey bee stings a person, it cannot pull the barbed stinger back out. It leaves behind not only the stinger, but also part of its abdomen and digestive tract, plus muscles and nerves. This massive abdominal rupture kills the honey bee. Honey bees are the only species of bees to die after stinging. This is clearly of detriment to an individual honey bee but could be highly beneficial to the hive.

How can the origins of this be explained with the evolution concepts we’ve discussed?
3. According to the reading, do honey bees and bumble bees share a common ancestor? Reference the specific part of the book that informs your answer.
4. The process by which an ancestral bee gave rise to the various species of honey bee is called
a. adaptive radiation b. deep time c. phylogeny d. symbiosis

Although the genetics of bees differs from that of humans, we can still use our knowledge of genetics and the Central Dogma to understand how the inheritance of traits occurs in honey bees. Using the chart and explanation in the book, answer the following questions.
1. How many sets of chromosomes does a queen honey bee have? How many chromosomes does a worker bee have? How many chromosomes does a drone bee have?  Continue reading

Due Feb. 29th: Chemistry in Bees

Read pages 32-33, 48-49, and 64-65 in The Bee: A Natural History for some background information.

Please answer the questions below and send your responses to by 9pm on Monday Feb 29th with the subject line “Chemistry in Bees”.

  1. In what ways can you relate your knowledge of chemistry to bees?
  2. What is going on in the photo below? What key terms learned in class can you incorporate in your thoughts? What about the information learned from the few pages in the book listed above?
    Santa Barbara, California, USA --- Honey bee hovering near blue-eyed grass flower --- Image by © Ralph Clevenger/Corbis
  3. Depending on the different levels of glucose and fructose, the amount of time it takes for honey to crystallize varies. Why do you think honey crystallizes? What do you think happens to the molecules when it does?
  4. Two beekeepers were analyzing their honey. The honey from one hive has a pH of 4, while the other has a pH of 6.  Is their honey acidic or basic? Which honey has more hydrogen ions? How much more?
  5. When nectar is turned into honey, the enzyme invertase splits sucrose into glucose and fructose. What is the name of the reaction that occurs?
  6. Pollen is collected when bees are out foraging for nectar. Bees will groom pollen off of their hairs and compact them onto their legs using a small amount of nectar. To collect pollen, beekeepers use pollen traps which force the bees to enter their hives through smaller holes that knocks the pollen off their legs. Based on this information, what type of bond or intermolecular force allows pollen to cling onto bees?
  7. Beeswax is used throughout the hive. The bees shape it into the hexagonal shape that we know. One way it is used is to fill and cap honey, so it can be used at a later time. This is stored as such to prevent drips and fermentation. From this information, is beeswax hydrophobic or hydrophilic? What compositions of beeswax make it so?

What are pheromones? In what ways do bees use pheromones in their lives?

Isoamyl acetate (below) is the the main compound in bees’ alarm pheromone. Is this hydrophobic or hydrophilic? Draw out its full molecular structure.
Isoamyl acetate

Due Feb 10th: Scientific Inquiry Assignment

Please put your responses to this assignment in the body of an email and send that email to with the subject line Scientific Inquiry Assignment by 5pm on Feb. 10th.

1. Listen to the TED Radio Hour segment with Margaret Heffernan.
a. What is or should be the control group in the chicken flock experiment? Explain.
b. Host Guy Raz and TED speaker Margaret Heffernan say that social scientists and business people use this experiment as a way to think about human behavior. Are they using inductive or deductive reasoning to do this? How? Continue reading

Due Jan 27th: First Assignment

k10336Your first assignment has a few parts, generally related to course materials:

  1. Read the syllabus; there will be a quiz on Wednesday.
  2. Determine how you will obtain The Bee: A Natural History. You’ll need this by about the third week of class.
  3. Also, determine which of the 3 options for required textbook you will use for the course; you may of course use more than one. Obtain it. Start reading chapter 1.
  4. Optional: If you want to get a head start on the semester, look for a biology-related talk that you can attend.

If you’d like an additional challenge week, join in on Note to Self‘s Infomagical project to rein in your information consumption habits.