Now listen and answer questions 25 to 30
How will you know if Asian bees have entered Australia?
We're looking at the diet of the bird called the Rainbow Bee Eater.
The Bee Eater doesn't care what it eats, as long as they're insects.
But the interesting thing about this bird is that we are able to analyse exactly
what it eats and that's really helpful if we're looking for introduced insects.
Because insects have their skeletons outside their bodies,
so the Bee Eaters digest the meat from the inside.
Then they bring up all the indigestible bits of skeleton and, of course, the wings in a pellet —
a small ball of waste material which they cough up.
That sounds a bit unpleasant. So, how do you go about it?
In the field we track down the Bee Eaters and find their favourite feeding spots,
you know, the places where the birds usually feed.
It's here that we can find the pellets.
We collect them up and take them back to the laboratory to examine the contents.
How do you do that?
The pellets are really hard, especially if they have been out in the sun for a few days so,
first of all, we treat them by adding water to moisten them and make them softer.
Then we pull them apart under the microscope.
Everything's all scrunched up but we're looking for wings so we just pull them all out and straighten them.
Then we identify them to see if we can find any Asian bee wings.
And how many have you found?
So far our research shows that Asian bees have not entered Australia in any number —
it's a good result and much more reliable than trying to find live ones as evidence of introduced insects.
Well, that's fascinating! Thank you, Grant, for those insights.
I hope that you might inspire some of our students here to conduct some similar experiments.
That is the end of section 3. You now have half a minute to check your answers
Now turn to Section 4