Tag Archive | investment opportunities

Getting bees hooked on flowers with nicotine

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While some researchers have been busy developing a possible vaccine to help humans beat their nicotine cravings, others have been getting bumblebees addicted to the stuff. But the experiment wasn’t just an exercise in getting the bees buzzed, it was an investigation into whether or not the drug could influence the insects’ ability to learn the color of flowers. Hint: It can.

They sure do love their bumblebees over at Queen Mary hooked on flowers. Researchers there have previously taught the pollinators how to push a ball around a playing field, and pull a string to get food rewards. In a further demonstration of how a creature with a brain about the size of a pin head can be trained to execute particular behaviors, researchers there used nicotine-laced nectar on artificial flowers to see if they could get the creatures to show a preference for one color over another.

So they laced blue flowers with a plain sugar solution and purple flowers with a sugar solution containing nicotine. They then set 60 different bees lose in their artificial garden to see how they behaved. Sure enough, the bees showed a clear preference for the nectar that was doped with nicotine in the purple flowers. Interestingly though, the bees were repelled by the nicotine-containing flowers if the concentration of the chemical was too high.

The researchers then reversed things: They laced the blue flowers with the nicotine solution and the purple flowers with the plain nectar. The bees continued to fixate on the purple flowers however, showing that they had associated the color with the reward, even if they could get a nicotine buzz by visiting the other flowers (pin-head-sized brain, remember?).

“Flowers typically reward pollinators ‘honestly’ with rewards such as sweet nectar, but nature’s trick box is endlessly resourceful, said professor Lars Chittka from QMUL’s School of Biological and Chemical Sciences. “Some plant species gain an unfair advantage over competing species by spiking their nectar with addictive substances, such as nicotine in tobacco flowers.”

While the experiment might seem a bit obvious – of course bees would prefer a buzz-bringing solution over plain sugar water – the researchers say it opens the door to wide range of future studies analyzing ways in which plants might out compete each other for the attentions of insects that can spread their pollen.

For More Information: Michael Franco

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US flights to cut flower transport cost by half

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The Kenya Flower Council (KFC) projects that the freight cost for flower exports to the US will halve with direct flights between the two countries.

Cargo flights are currently charging Sh400 ($4) per kilogram me of flowers shipped to America via Amsterdam or South Africa. KFC says the charges are high because of the transit stopover.

“It is going to be cheaper for us to export our flowers to the US once direct flights to America start, this will be a big boost to our growers who will see their earnings improve,” said chief executive officer Jane Ngigi.

The council is gathering market intelligence on the status of the American market, entry points and investment opportunities.

Volumes of flowers exports last year grew incrementally to 133,000 tonnes from 130,000 tonnes the previous year, according to data from the Horticulture Development Centre.

Ms Ngige said the US market would raise competition for Kenyan flowers globally as currently nearly all the produce from the country is sold in Europe.

“Exports to the US implies we will have diversified our markets and we will no longer have to rely on Europe as our major buyer; this will make our produce competitive because of an alternative market,” she said.

Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) was this year granted Category One status by American authorities, enabling direct flights from Nairobi expected to start in the next few months.

Dick Van Ramsdonk, president of HPP Exhibitions, said Kenyan flowers are gaining popularity in the US but remain costly to transport.

“Kenya’s flowers are a sensation in the US but until the categorization, it has been costly and lengthy to ship the country’s flowers to the world’s biggest market of our flower after the EU,” said Mr Raimondo.

He said with the flights, more American buyers will be coming to Nairobi next month during the sixth edition of the International Flower Trade Expo, noting that they have received a lot of confirmations and increasing inquiries from.

For More Information:- GERALD ANDAE