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Bees collecting nectar off a flower. Photo: Holger Hollemann/picture alliance via Getty Images

Solar eclipses are viewed as must-see phenomena, but bees don't treat them that way, a study in the Annals of the Entomological Society of America says.

What we're hearing: Nothing. During the 2017 solar eclipse, bees were completely silent. As the full shadow of the moon covered up sunlight, bees stopped buzzing. They resumed activity shortly after the moon's alignment between the Earth and the sun shifted and daylight returned.

The details: This break in action was caught on tape by a group of more than 400 volunteers using tiny microphones and temperature sensors near flowers across 16 locations in Oregon, Idaho and Missouri, all of which were in the path of totality.

Researchers expected to see a change in behavior, said Candace Galen, the lead author and a professor of biological sciences at the University of Missouri, according to a press release. Marina Koren writes in The Atlantic that what was unexpected was the abruptness of the shift.

“It was like ‘lights out’ at summer camp. That surprised us.”
— Candace Galen

How it works: The shift from sunlight to midday darkness triggered night mode in the bees. Bees fly low during dusk and, as it gets closer to night, they return to their colonies to sleep.

Be smart: This reaction from bees is not uncommon. Animals' reactions to eclipses have been recorded for centuries.

  • Ristoro d'Arezzo, an Italian monk, wrote "all the animals and birds were terrified; and the wild beasts could easily be caught," on June 3, 1239.
  • Astronomer Christoph Clavius wrote “stars appeared in the sky and (marvelous to behold) the birds fell down from the sky to the ground in terror of such horrid darkness," on August 21, 1560.

It's nearly impossible to confirm those accounts, but researchers in 1973 observed erratic reactions in captive squirrels. In 1983, Blue Bulls reacted with different feeding, lying and social interaction times.

Now we can add bees to this list.

Go deeper

Symone Sanders leaving VP's office

Vice President Kamala Harris and her press secretary Symone Sanders. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Symone Sanders, senior advisor and chief spokesperson to Vice President Kamala Harris, is leaving the VP’s office by the end of this year, three White House officials told Axios on Wednesday.

Why it matters: The VP has faced an onslaught of criticism in her first year centered on her leadership and staff, adding to the suggestion, she’s not the Democratic Party’s preferred nominee for 2024.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
Updated 3 hours ago - Health

Omicron travel bans are sign of what's to come

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The travel bans and border closures prompted by the Omicron variant likely won't fully prevent its spread, but that won't stop countries from leaning on the measures.

Why it matters: The rapid speed at which countries turned to travel bans with the emergence of Omicron indicates border controls will increasingly become a weapon against infectious disease — whether or not public health experts agree they are effective.

3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

GOP fights itself on shutdown politics

Reporters question Senate Minority Whip John Thune before the Republican Party's weekly lunch on Tuesday. Photo: Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

GOP leaders on Capitol Hill are scrambling to reach a deal with a bloc of 15 Senate Republicans threatening a government shutdown to force a fight over the Biden administration's vaccine mandates.

Why it matters: The push to defund the mandates — by holding the short-term government funding bill hostageis largely symbolic, and highly controversial within the Republican Party. A shutdown as early as midnight Friday could trigger everything from national park closures to delays in receiving Social Security checks.