Radioactive fallout in U.S. honey. Baby bees love carbs. 10 ways solar power can benefit bees.

The Bees of Grand Staircase-Escalante film is showing this Saturday, April 24, as part of the 44th International Wildlife Film Festival – along side some other very cool environmental films. Get your virtual festival passes and enjoy!


Conservation

U.S. honey still contains traces of radioactive fallout from nuclear bomb testing in 1950s and 1960s

(Business Insider) Honey from much of the eastern U.S. shows traces of a cesium-137, a radioactive element. A study traced this back to nuclear testing that took place decades ago. There is no risk to human health, but the honey can help locate “hot spots” of soil contamination.

Common plants and pollinators act as anchors for ecosystems

(University of Colorado Boulder) New research finds a house fly, humble yarrow weed and other “generalist” plants and pollinators play a crucial role in maintaining biodiversity and may also serve as buffers against some impacts of climate change. “A lot of times, conservation efforts are geared toward things that are rare. But oftentimes, species that are common are also in decline and could go extinct, and that could have really big repercussions for maintaining biodiversity.”

USDA grant to support expansion of online tool for bee management

(The Bradford Era) A Penn State-led research team has received a nearly $950,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to create the next generation of Beescape – an online decision-support tool designed to help beekeepers, growers and land managers “evaluate the habitat quality of their landscapes for bees and predict colony stress over seasons”.

Saving the super bloom: why California’s wildflowers are under siege

(Vogue) Due to social media and two nearly back to back super blooms in recent years, the term seeded itself in America’s cultural consciousness. But despite their popularity and ecological importance, wildflower blooms across California and the greater Southwest are in peril due to a pile-on of human-caused stressors including invasive plants, residential and green development, agriculture, mining, and climate change.

Noisy environments can have detrimental effect on plants

(The Guardian) A growing body of research has shown how noise pollution adversely affects animal behavior. But a new study suggests the detrimental effects have trickled down to plants as well: Persistent noise from natural gas wells in New Mexico disrupted birds that feed on and distribute pinyon seeds.

Just 3% of world’s ecosystems remain intact, study suggests

(The Guardian) These fragments of wilderness undamaged by human activities are mainly in parts of the Amazon and Congo tropical forests, east Siberian and northern Canadian forests and tundra, and the Sahara. Invasive alien species including cats, foxes, rabbits, goats and camels have had a major impact on native species in Australia, with the study finding no intact areas left. The researchers suggest reintroducing a small number of important species to some damaged areas, such as elephants or wolves – a move that could restore up to 20% of the world’s land to ecological intactness.


Economics

Ten ways to ensure bees benefit from the solar power boom

(EurekAlert, Lancaster University) Researchers assessing the impact of solar energy development across Europe highlight ten evidence-based ways to protect and even enhance pollinator biodiversity.

Butterflies – not just bees – shown to play key role in cotton cultivation

(Texas Standard) New research shows that butterflies are responsible for a third of cotton pollination in Texas.

Bloomberg plans to install and maintain more honey bees at NYC offices

(Bloomberg) “Bloomberg is about to take thousands of bees under its wing. We’re proud to take part in the movement for more eco-conscious cities by expanding our bee program – currently available in our Princeton, New Jersey and London offices – to host beehives at our three New York City offices. Starting in June, our thousands of new colleagues will pollinate the urban flora that surrounds us during the summer. At the end of the season, we’ll harvest their honey and share hundreds of jars with our community.”

Apple brand aims to raise awareness of bees’ importance as pollinators

(Fresh Produce Journal) Pink Lady has partnered with the British Bee Charity on an on-pack promotion at Morrisons to support the protection of British bees. The apple brand’s “Bee Pink” promotion aims to raise awareness of bees’ importance as apple pollinators by offering shoppers at the UK-based grocery chain the chance to win one of 10 “bespoke bee bundles” and 150 runner-up prizes.


Policy/Law

Oshkosh Common Council approves No Mow May

(Oshkosh Northwestern) The Common Council in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, voted 5-2 to approve No Mow May, a resolution letting residents stop lawn maintenance until June to promote pollinator species and their habits.


Science

Baby bees love carbs – here’s why that matters

(The Conversation) Wild bees are essential for sustaining the landscapes we love. To do this, though, bees first need to feed their own growing young. Astonishingly, we still know very little about what nutrients in pollen help young bees grow. Two new studies are helping to paint a more detailed picture of a baby bee’s ideal diet by focusing on solitary bees, such as mason bees.

Beehives are held together by their mutual gut microbes

(Scientific American) Every honey bee colony has its own unique scent, like a fingerprint. And bees use that scent to recognize their nest mates – basically saying, “You smell like me, so I’m going to let you into the colony.” But here’s the mystery: If you transfer a baby bee into a new hive, not only does the colony accept it, but that bee will eventually smell like its adopted nest mates – even though they’re not genetically related. “This kind of got us thinking: Perhaps it’s not actually the genetics of the bee. It’s actually the genetics of the microbes that live within the bee.”

New bumble bee species uncovered by genome sequencing

(Uppsala Universitet) A team of researchers were studying the genetic diversity of bumble bees in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado by collecting hundreds of samples and sequencing their genomes. Surprisingly, their data revealed the presence of a new species, which was indistinguishable in appearance from the species Bombus sylvicola, but clearly distinct at the genetic level. The researchers named this species Bombus incognitus.

Diversification pattern of the cuckoo bumble bee, Bombus flavidus

(Twitter, Patrick Lhomme @patricklhme) “Let’s give a final goodbye to Bombus fernaldae” The original paper.

This Old Bee House: Study deems hive boxes drafty, inefficient

(Entomology Today) European honey bees suffer from an astonishing array of problems – Varroa mites, hive beetles, foulbrood, chalkbrood, stonebrood, deformed wing virus, 20-plus other viruses, poor diet, predation, pesticide exposure – it’s death by a thousand cuts. A new paper adds another knife: the typical house beekeepers provide for honey bees. It’s a wooden box based on a nineteenth century design that leaks and gains heat just like you’d expect it would. And occasionally someone comes along and takes away part of the insulation (honey). These boxes “are designed for the human first, with the bee a vague afterthought”.

Predicting how viruses affect bees

(Chromatography Today) Scientists in Belgium and China have recently studied bees looking for a way to analyze the impact of viruses on bees. In a recent paper they report on how chromatography – a technique commonly used for separating a mixture of chemical substances into its individual components – could be utilized to analyze potential biomarkers in the bee community.

As plant and animal diversity wanes, is microbial life changing too?

(EurekAlert, Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution) Whether change is underway also in the world of microbes – the tiniest cogs in planetary functioning – is “a complete unknown. We have no idea whether global microbial diversity is increasing, decreasing, or staying the same.”


Society/Culture

We’re finally getting a picture of how dangerous PPE is for wildlife

(Atlas Obscura) Humans have now been living alongside COVID-19 for more than a year – and that means other animals have, too. For months, scientists have suspected that animals are affected by the disposable masks, plastic gloves, and other personal protective equipment that people lost or discarded around parks, waterways, and other public spaces. Now researchers have pulled together observations from several countries to see how creatures are grappling with our castoffs.

Native Bee Society of British Columbia hosting art contest

(Twitter, Native Bee Society of BC @BCNativeBees) “Love #nativebees and #drawing, #painting or #artsandcrafts? You're all invited to submit your creations and enter our art contest. Art will be showcased on our website and social media. Deadline is Friday, April 30 at 12 Midnight PDT. Complete rules here


One More Thing…

“Happy Earth Day!” From eric carle @ericcarle via Twitter.