It was the year 2010 and Catherine’s Bee Project turned out to be very interesting indeed. It turns out that shiny reflective scaffolds for solar panels make “bees go crazy, lose orientation and drop to their deaths”. Matte black frames around the solar panel are just fine however, and bees have no interest in them. The project title was “The Effect of Various Surfaces on the Behavior of Managed Bees” [http://www.usc.edu/CSSF/History/2010?Projects/J2425.pdf].
Winning first place in Junior Zoology at OCSEF, it went on to the California State Science Fair and seemed to stop there... But this turns out to be an illusion...
Over one year later, a long distance phone call came from the east coast to Catherine’s school. A solar panel company had been researching reports on bee behavior and had come across Catherine’s project. It turns out that Catherine’s work was very useful for people in the solar panel industry.
The solar energy company that lent the solar panel for Catherine’s project now uses her bee research conclusions to help market solar panel installations in agricultural areas. And happily her research data have been validated by other bee researchers as well. A happy and unexpected twist to an OCSEF project two years ago.
January 2012 write-up by D. Helmeste, OCSEF Board Member