We need pollinators to grow food in space, but bees may not survive harsh extraterrestrial environment, study shows

| | October 30, 2019
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One of the world’s newest space analogs is inside a white ziggurat on top of a former nuclear bunker in Pila, Poland. Known as the Lunares Research Station, this privately funded facility simulates what it’s like to live and work at a base on the moon or Mars, but it doesn’t only work with humans. In a recent experiment, the potential space cadets were 90,000 bees who were sent in to learn what it’s like to buzz around the red planet.

The goal was to see whether bees could join a mission to the moon or Mars, where these prolific pollinators could help sustain gardens attached to a base. Lunares researchers wanted to observe how life in an enclosed space would affect honeybee colonies …. The apiary was inside a sealed tent, where scientists monitored the hives’ temperature, humidity, and hive weight, among other things.

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Bees have ventured into space on several occasions before, to study the effects of microgravity on their physiology and behavior, but no research has looked at the behavior of an entire colony under isolated conditions, says Aleksander Wasniowski, the R&D manager at Lunares. The initial results weren’t great.

“Around 1,000 to 1,200 bees died every four days,” Wasniowski says.

Read full, original article: Bees, Please: Stop Dying in Your Martian Simulator

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