Bees have bigger brains than ants and birds. Southern states will 'tropicalize' with climate change. What the global pollination 'trade' reveals about biodiversity.


Parts of southernmost states in U.S. will “tropicalize” as climate changes

(USGS) As climate change reduces the frequency and intensity of killing freezes, tropical plants and animals that once could survive in only a few parts of the U.S. mainland are expanding their ranges northward. The change is likely to result in some temperate zone plant and animal communities found today across the southern U.S. being replaced by tropical communities.

The perseverance of New York City’s wildflowers

(New York Times) A park in Williamsburg awaits the miniature beauty of its spring blossoms. Not all of these flowers are native to New York, or even North America, but they have sustained themselves long enough to become naturalized. These species pose little threat to native wildlife, unlike more domineering introduced species such as mugwort, an herb with an intrepid rhizome system.

Is this the end of forests as we’ve known them?

(The Guardian) Trees lost to drought and wildfires are not returning. Climate change is taking a toll on the world’s forests - and radically changing the environment before our eyes.


The global pollination ‘trade’ reveals how crucial biodiversity is to food security

(Anthropocene) Pollination is the living proof of just how intertwined our food systems are with nature. But what is the value of this essential resource? Researchers have recently attempted to answer that question by framing this ecosystem service as a tradable commodity, and for the first time, quantifying its role in driving the international food trade.

Timing key to how Asian giant hornets might impact commercial hives

(Capital Press) Bees pollinate berries in northwest Washington before Asian giant hornet colonies mature in the summer, a sequence that may shield commercial beekeepers and farmers from being stung by the invasive wasp.

Bee Corp celebrates five year mark

(Inside Indiana Business) An Indianapolis-based ag tech startup that was born out of a beekeeping club at Indiana University is marking five years in business. In 2019, the company shifted its focus from preventing hive loss to determining hive strength with the launch of its Verifli product, which uses infrared technology to analyze the strength of hives.


Lawsuit challenges Trump administration’s denial of crucial habitat protection to endangered rusty patched bumble bee

(Center for Biological Diversity) The National Resources Defense Council, the Center for Biological Diversity, and the Friends of Minnesota Scientific and Natural Areas has sued the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for refusing to designate critical habitat for the highly endangered rusty patched bumble bee. Despite the bee’s disappearance from 87% of its native range, the agency announced in September that designating critical habitat for the species was “not prudent,” claiming that availability of habitat does not limit the bee’s conservation. This decision contradicted the agency’s own findings that habitat loss and degradation have contributed to the bee’s decline, worsened by the widespread use of insecticides and herbicides that directly kill the bee and the wildflowers it needs to survive.

Montana’s proposed Pollinator Protection Act seeks to help save the bees

(Lake County Leader) As lawmakers in the 67th Montana Legislative Session fixate on responding to the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Pollinator Protection Act (HB 410) is focused on addressing a different global crisis: the rapid loss of honey bees and other pollinators critical to farmers, biodiversity and maintaining a stable food supply.

Another Wisconsin town proposes “No Mow May”

(WSAW-TV) The mayor of Stevens Point has proposed a “No Mow May”, which would allow people to opt-out of mowing all or part of their lawn for the month. The extra growth is meant to help pollinators such as bees gain strength after the dormant winter. Stevens Point has long prided itself in its conservation efforts. It is named Bird City Wisconsin, a Tree City U.S.A., and boasts the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point as a bee-friendly campus.


Bees have higher brain cell density than birds – but ants don’t

(New Scientist) Many bees have a brain cell density greater than that of small birds – but most ant brains contain a far lower density of neurons. The difference may be down to the insects’ lifestyles: because bees fly, they may need more brain cells than ants do in order to process visual information.

A Red List of insect experts in Europe

(EurekAlebut, Pensoft Publishers) Insects are the largest taxonomic group in the animal kingdom. But insect populations have been catastrophically plummeting. One less known aspect of this global crisis is on the agenda today: the shrinking number of insect taxonomists, the scientists on whose highly specialized skills we depend to obtain knowledge on the diversity of organisms. Without taxonomists, no study of species or ecosystems would be possible, as we would not be able to recognize what biodiversity we are losing.

Honey bees form scent-driven phone tree to pass along messages

(EurekAlert, University of Colorado at Boulder) Honey bees play a scent-driven game of telephone to guide members of a colony back to their queen, according to a new study.

Honey bee behavior from within the hive

(ScienceDaily, PLOS) Unique video from within beehives provides special insight into honey bee behaviors, according to a new study. The recordings show a range of worker, offspring, and queen behaviors within the brood cells, including the queen’s egg laying; embryonic hatching and larval cocooning; nurse worker bees’ inspection and feeding of larva; workers’ use of wax scales and existing nest material to remodel combs; storage of pollen and nectar in cells; and hygienic practices, such as cannibalism, grooming and surface cleaning.

Global biodiversity awareness tracked with Wikipedia page views

(EurekAlert, University College London) A research team found that awareness of biodiversity is marginally increasing, but the rate of change varies greatly between different groups of animals. The team developed a new metric, called the Species Awareness Index, derived from the rate of change of page views for Wikipedia entries for individual animal species.


People have started to care about insects. Now we need action, say experts

(Horizon) “We’re starting to think about the narratives to connect to different stakeholders. Should we talk primarily about money, or about the beauty of nature? And how does it differ between countries?”

One More Thing…

From Silas Bossert @thecriticalbee via Twitter: “I made a large poster on the natural history and #phylogeny of #bees. Feel free to use it for whatever you want! (except commercially)”