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So far Hoot has created 70 blog entries.

To Sting or Not to Sting

When we think of bees, we imagine their fearsome stingers—but not all bees sting! Let’s take a look at our not-so-sharp buzzing buddies.

1. All male bees – A stinger is a modified version of the egg-laying part of a female bee’s body, called the ovipositor. Since males were never meant to lay eggs, they never evolved a stinger.

Despite not being able to sting, many male bees exhibit a sting-based behavior. When grabbed, they buzz loudly and curl the end of their abdomen toward the hand holding them. This mimics a female’s stinging position, but only the fuzzy male bee butt makes contact. Still, the behavior is scary enough that even experienced bee handlers often let go!


2. Stingless bees –Meloponines, or stingless honeybees, are a group of approximately 500 species that live in tropical and subtropical zones. Stingless is a bit of a misnomer – female bees have stingers, but they are so tiny, they cannot even pierce human skin. They can bite, though, and will pinch away at your forehead with their tiny jaws if you try to steal their honey!

Fairy bees (Perdita) and other mining bees in the Andrenidae family lack the valve in the stinger that pumps venom, rendering their stingers effectively stingless. Not to be outdone, the Dioxyini, a group of cleptoparasitic bees that lay their eggs in the nests of other bees, have the most reduced stingers of all!

3. Most bees, most of the time – Bees only use their stingers when in danger. No need to fear around bees. Just move slowly, watch your step, and everyone will leave sting-free.

Bee-ting the Heat

It’s easy for bees to get all hot and bothered. Flying takes a lot of work! To flex those wing muscles, bees convert chemical energy to mechanical work.

Insect flight can require metabolic rates up to 500x resting rates, so a lot of heat can be produced very quickly. To keep from feeling the burn, bees can do a few cool things to beat the heat.

  1. They mouth off.

Honeybees regurgitate nectar and spread it over the long surface of their tongues, extending it over and over. This behavior, called tongue-lashing, increases evaporative heat loss – similar to dogs panting.

2. They go against the flow.

Some species of bumblebees and carpenter bees have a loop that circulates hemolymph (bug blood) from the thorax to the abdomen and back. At high temperatures, these bees can alternate the flow so that it only goes in one direction at a time. This allows hot hemolymph from the thorax to be cooled by the wind across the large abdominal surface; then the flow to the thorax is turned back on and all that cooled hemolymph goes to the flight muscles.


  1. They let it go to their heads. Some species of carpenter bees will direct super-heated blood to their broad, flat heads; when the wind contacts the large surface, it blows lots of the heat away.


That’s not all! Some studies on pallid bees, orchid bees, and honeybees suggest they might be able to reduce their metabolic heat production by decreasing how frequently they […]

Announcing Buzz Hoot Roar’s Fifth Annual Taxonomy Pun Contest!

In honor of our great appreciation for those who love to order, classify, categorize, group, arrange, grade and rank (and just in time for Taxonomist Appreciation Day), Buzz Hoot Roar is proud to announce its fifth annual pun contest.

For inspiration, check out one of last year’s winners:

Pun and illustration by Jennifer Joslin (@SpecimenJenn)

Here’s how it works:

1. Tweet us your best taxonomy-related pun by Wednesday, March 14.

2. Our celebrity judges will select five favorites.

3. Winners will receive: their puns illustrated on Buzz Hoot Roar’s blog, a set of printed greeting cards to share with the taxonomists in their lives, and a BHR super-soft T-shirt.

Let the witticisms begin!

The heat is killing me. No, really.

Without a doubt, these heat waves and air pollution are killing us.

The World Health Organization estimates that our crazy climate change weather trends over the past 30 years kill more than 150,000 people each year.

A climate change-related heat wave in 2003 killed nearly 70,000 people in Europe alone. That’s bad news, as historically hot summers are becoming an annual norm for most of us.

Even the poor cows make less milk.

The mercury seesaw also may be pushing us over the mental edge, as hotter days wreak havoc on our identities and livelihoods.

Ocean oscillations like El Niño can lead to cooler years and mask global warming, but don’t be fooled: The warming trend and increasing extreme weather persists.

When people dump greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide, methane, and water vapor in the atmosphere, they trap heat and the planet feels the burn. More ocean water evaporates, and monster storms pour down. At the same time, evaporation, early snow melt, and more lead to drought. Crops drown or burn. Even lizards bake toward extinction.

Get a popsicle. Maybe take a walk. But try […]

BHR Artist in Residence Has A SciArt Book! And it’s free!

Who wants to know more about fungi? Everybody. Every single person. Buzz Hoot Roar proudly announces artist-in-residence Christine Nishiyama’s sciart book, We Are Fungi
Blending her charming-yet-accurate (except the mushroom eyes) illustrations and approachable tone, Nishiyama gives you the dirt on the planet’s largest organisms.
She shares some personal favorites of the mushroom world . . .
. . . as she leads you down the path, or maybe down deep underground, to understanding more about these mysterious organisms.


If you’d like to know more, and to see some sciart at its funnest, you can download it for free here: http://mightcouldstudios.com/we-are-fungi/ or check it out on Amazon here: https://www.amazon.com/We-Are-Fungi-Christine-Nishiyama/dp/0999403907/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8


Christine Nishiyama is an illustrator + writer, making books and comics about life and science. She also teaches art to help other people make more art. Follow Christine at @might_could and check out more of her work here.

Bull Sharks’ Road Trips

What do bull sharks, the Zambezi shark, van Rooyen’s shark, and Lake Nicaragua shark have in common?  A scientific name: Carcharhinus leucas.

Bull sharks often travel into freshwaters like Lake Nicaragua. For many years, scientists thought the Lake Nicaraguan sharks were a separate species, landlocked in the lake. When they tagged the sharks in the late 1960s, they saw the sharks could navigate the rapids of the 175 km-long San Juan River and reach the lake within 2-25 days.

Bull sharks are known for river cruisin’ in other parts of the world, too. They’ve even found them 4,000 km up the Amazon River, as well as in the Ganges, Mississippi, and Brisbane Rivers. Nobody’s sure why they make the trip. Maybe the eating’s better in lakes and rivers from time to time.

All fishes have to maintain a salt and ion balance in their bodies, so how does this saltwater species deal with adjustment to freshwater’s salinity? Well, bull sharks pee more in fresh water.

Sharks like to keep themselves a little salty. In oceans and rivers, sharks’ body fluids are saltier (hyper-osmotic) than the water they are navigating. Freshwater voyaging sharks get their briny bodies by huffing more water through their gills; they end up peeing more. Ion transport in the gills helps them reabsorb Na+ and Cl-. 

Other less-familiar sharks and rays take their own river cruises. The Ganges shark, Glyphis gangeticus, has been confused with its cousin, the bull shark, probably due […]

How Climate Change Makes Poison Ivy Stronger

Climate change isn’t just warming the oceans and endangering polar bears.

It’s also breeding larger, more toxic poisonous plants. 

Plants basically need three things to grow: sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide. For millions of years, the supply of each of these ingredients remained relatively steady. Then came the Industrial Revolution, and people started burning fossil fuels to power their factories and vehicles, and heat and cool their homes. Today, there is more carbon dioxide in our atmosphere than at any other time in human history.

Researchers at the U.S. Department of Agriculture wanted to see how this atmospheric disturbance affected plant health. In the depths of Duke Forest, they planted giant rings of PVC pipes, which rose out of the forest floor all the way up to the top of the tree canopies. Through holes in the pipes, the scientists released either copious amounts of carbon dioxide or equivalent rations of ambient air. 

After six years, they found that poison ivy grew 149 percent faster in the presence of elevated levels of the greenhouse gas than it did under normal conditions. Not only did the supercharged plants grow larger, but they also produced more urushiol, the compound responsible for its characteristic itchy rash.

Follow-up studies have shown that the nasty weed’s growth and potency have doubled over the last fifty years.

That’s particularly bad news for […]

Coral Bleaching, or, how to drown a marine animal

Coral = tiny, tentacled animals called “polyps” (with a crunchy outer shell!) + algae. They’re ancient!

In addition to giving corals their stylish colors, those algae turn coral wastes into oxygen, sugars, and other important things that keep our waters in check. In turn, corals provide the algae with homes and steady incomes of nutrients.

They’re kind of a big deal.

Even though they cover only 0.1% of earth’s surface, corals harbor at least 25% of known marine creatures. Plus, reef structures provide a barrier that protect our beaches from storms and erosion.

And they can get a little stressed out.

Temperature, light, and food changes all give corals the willies. When they get frazzled, they spit out their colorful algae friends, and they turn white.

A recent study in the Mediterranean shows an 80% decline in coral reef cover. Without their internal food factories, corals get pretty hungry.

Two changes that can cause corals to majorly freak?

  1. Higher or lower temperature, and plummeting water pH because of increasing levels of CO2 in the ocean from greenhouse gases. Climate change.
  2. Sea-level rise, declining water quality, and overexploitation of key reef-loving species can also whitewash our waters. When corals bleach, many species find themselves out of their homes.

They’re still around, for now. We have a little time to help make things right. Figure out how to alter our greenhouse gas output. Protect reefs from over-fishing and trawling damage. We can help keep these underwater creatures from drowning.



Written by Roar.

Illustrated by Allison […]

The final 2017 winner!

And our last winning submission for this year’s Taxonomy Day Pun Contest! The pun’s by @phishdoc!


Special thanks again to our expert judges for picking the punniest puns this year! Their job was a tough one. The competition was steep!

Our judges:

James Hutson (@jameshutson) is a visual science communications specialist who explains all manner of things with award-winning, animated and narrated explainer videos, illustrations and infographics (jameshutson.net).

Christine Nishiyama (@might_could) is an illustrator and writer working out of Atlanta. She lends her approachable, charming style to picture books, graphic novels, and comics. She also writes essays and teaches courses to help other creatives tell their own stories, and encourage everyone to make more art (mightcouldstudios.com).

Hoot, graphic designer (@sarahblackmonlips)

Pun contest, day 4…another winner!

Today’s winning submission by @oberrated explains why we’ve been hearing “Free Bird” trickling through salmon-packed babbling brooks and streams. #SciArt by Hoot (@sarahblackmonlips)!


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