A rock album about the strange world of bees has been recorded by a zoology professor in an effort to save the vital insects from extinction.
Each track explores a different aspect of bee psychology, biology or history — from the time NASA sent bees into space to the use of bees in commercial products.
All of the funds raised from the sale of the ‘Strange Flowers’ album will be donated to the conservation charity Buglife which works to protects bees and other insects.
A rock album about the strange world of bees has been recorded by a zoology professor in an effort to save the vital insects from extinction. Pictured, the Killer Queen Bees, with zoologist Lars Chittka, centre, and musicians Rob Alexander, left, and Katie Green, right
AN EXCERPT OF LYRICS FROM ‘I STUNG GWYNETH PALTROW’
‘I have died for your sins
So you may shine eternally
Pierced for your transgressions
Crushed for your iniquities
I gave you my greatest gift
The ultimate sacrifice
In the name of undying beauty
I took the fate that you try to evade’
The band, Killer Queen Bees, is made up of zoologist Lars Chittka of the Queen Mary University of London and musicians Katie Green and Rob Alexander.
Professor Chittka, who plays the electric guitar, is known for having previously taught bees to play football and to pull strings to receive food.
‘Strange Flowers’ will be the band’s debut album — and aims to bring the strange world of bees to life, with lyrics exploring the biology, lives and psychology of bees.
‘Rather than just explaining “dry facts” in my scientific writings, it has long struck me that there is a lot of poetry in the world of bees, so I decided to package them in song lyrics,’ said Professor Chittka.
‘It was important for me not to write sentimental texts about quaint summer meadows and buzzing bees.’
‘As I am learning every day, as someone who studies the psychology of bees, the world of pollinators and flowers is full of manipulation and trickery.’
On their website, Professor Chittka elaborates on this theme.
‘The first activity of a honeybee queen, after it hatches from is pupae, is to find and attempt to kill all of her sister queens,’ he wrote.
‘Nowhere in the world are sex and death as tightly linked as in the honeybee drone, which dies immediately after copulation because its penis is ripped from the body.’
‘Strange Flowers’ will be the Killer Queen Bee’s debut album — with lyrics exploring the biology, lives and psychology of bees (stock image)
The band, Killer Queen Bees, is made up of zoologist Lars Chittka of the Queen Mary University of London (centre) and musicians Katie Green (right) and Rob Alexander (left)
One song, ‘Space Girls’, tells the story of how NASA sent bees into space, while ‘Drone Wars’ explores the role of male bees who lose their penises after mating.
Meanwhile, ‘I Stung Gwyneth Paltrow’ looks at the use of bee-based products, including the practice of voluntarily being stung by bees in a so-called treatment for various ailments that is practised by the famous actress.
‘My hope is that the song lyrics will raise awareness for the fascinating biology of bees by this unconventional pathway,’ said Professor Chittka.
STRANGE FLOWERS: TRACK LIST
1. California Gold
Explores the California almond bloom, the world’s biggest pollination event.
2. The Beekeeper’s Dream
A beekeeper has a nightmare about how bees remember human faces.
3. Night Shards
This tracks looks at how bees, like humans, process memories at night.
4. Strange Flowers
The meeting of bees and flowers invokes an impossible relationship.
5. Drone Wars
Tells the fateful tale of male bee drones, who die after mating.
6. Space Girls
NASA sent bees into space in 1982 and 1984 — but what did they think?
7. I Stung Gwyneth Paltrow
A bee sacrificed at the altar of the actress’ beauty plots revenge.
8. Dying Killer Bee Queen
A killer bee queen contemplates how she murdered her competition.
9. The Listening Flower
Inspired by how some flowers can sense bees buzzing nearby.
All of the funds raised from the sale of the ‘Strange Flowers’ album will be donated to the conservation charity Buglife which works to protects bees and other insects
‘It is often said that we need to conserve bees because we need them.
‘That it is undoubtedly true — much of our food depends on bees as pollinators — but there are other reasons to ensure that they do not go extinct,’ added Professor Chittka.
‘They are fascinating beings in their own right. The strangeness of their world has inspired generations of nature lovers, poets and writers. We owe the bees.’
Bees, Professor Chittka added, have given us honey, candles and even mead — one of the most ancient alcoholic drinks known to man.
Professor Chittka, who plays the electric guitar, is known for having previously taught bees to play football and to pull strings to receive food
‘Reports on bee and general insect declines from across the world make stark reading at present,’ said Paul Hetherington, Fundraising and Communications Director at invertebrate conservation charity Buglife.
‘Current trends indicate multiple species extinctions within the next thirty years.’
‘But we may still be able to reverse the decline of bee populations with the right actions now. Restoring connectivity to our landscapes and changing patterns of herbicide and pesticide use can together make a difference.’
‘Rather than just explaining “dry facts” in my scientific writings, it has long struck me that there is a lot of poetry in the world of bees,’ said Professor Chittka
Professor Chittka and the band have decided to donate 100 per cent of the sales from the album to Buglife.
The charity works to protect insects and their habitats, bring threatened species back from the brink and raise awareness of the vital role that bugs play in our quality of life and the survival of the human species.
‘By supporting the Killer Bee Queens you will not only be gaining some great music but you will also be contributing to the change required to save these essential species,’ said Mr Hetherington.
‘Strange Flowers’ is available for purchase on Bandcamp.
WHAT IS THE HONEYBEE CRISIS?
Honeybees, both domestic and wild, are responsible for around 80 per cent of worldwide pollination, according to Greenpeace.
But bee colony collapses across the globe are threatening their vital work.
Bees are dying from a combination of pesticides, habitat destruction, drought, nutrition deficit, global warming and air pollution among other factors.
The global bee crisis can potentially be solved if dangerous pesticides are eliminated, wild habitats are preserved and ecological agriculture is restored, according to Greenpeace (file photo)
Greenpeace has reported: ‘The bottom line is that we know humans are largely responsible for the two most prominent causes: Pesticides and habitat loss.’
This is important for a number of reasons, chief among them the amount of work bees put into our food production.
Vegetables, nuts and fruits are pollinated by bees. Of the top human food crops, a whopping 70 of 100 are pollinated by the creatures, which account for as much as 90 per cent of global nutrition.
Greenpeace has suggested the following solutions to the problem:
- The preservation of wild habitats in order to protect pollinator health
- The restoration of ecological agriculture
- The elimination of the world’s most dangerous pesticides