Walmart announces new pollinator policy. Marks & Spencer plans to introduce 30 million honey bees. California agribusiness coalition wants to protect bees – or do they?

Conservation

Bees bounce back after Australia’s black summer: ‘Any life is good life’

(The Guardian) Australia’s bushfires were devastating for bee populations – both native and honey bees. But steady rain and community efforts are seeing the return of the pollinators

Introduced honey bee may pose threat to native bees

(ScienceDaily, Curtin University) A new study has found the introduced European honey bee could lead to native bee population decline or extinction when colonies compete for the same nectar and pollen sources in urban gardens and areas of bush.

Using amber-filtered bulbs instead of white light attracts fewer bugs

(Smithsonian) A conservation biologist at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and her colleagues found putting an amber-colored filter over an LED bulb substantially reduced the amount and variety of insects drawn to the glow. The team also found disease-carrying insects were disproportionately attracted to white LED light, which could mean avoiding white light around a workspace or a home, whether in the Amazon or the mid-Atlantic, could be beneficial to human health.

Death to America’s manicured lawns

(The New Republic) Lawns remain a “false idol,” representing the “ancient American ideal of taming nature to our own ends.” Nevada’s legislature is considering banning decorative grass. But really we should be banning most lawns in the country.


Economics

Walmart announces new policy to protect pollinators from pesticides

(Friends of the Earth) Walmart announced a landmark pollinator health policy today, the most far reaching to date of any U.S. food retailer. As the largest U.S. food retailer, Walmart’s commitment will help transform growing practices on thousands of farms globally that supply fresh fruits and vegetables to the retail giant’s U.S. consumers. The company jumped from an “F” to first place on Friends of the Earth’s Bee-Friendly Retailer Scorecard which ranks top U.S. grocery retailers on protecting pollinators from toxic pesticides.

(Walmart) “Imagine mornings without orange juice, summer picnics without strawberries or holiday dinners without apple pie. Such a future is possible if we don’t take collective action to begin restoring pollinator habitats around the world.”

(Twitter, Charlotte de Keyzer @cwdekeyzer) “I hate Walmart, but damn some of the stuff they are doing sounds promising & they are getting their info from the right sources.”

British retailer Marks & Spencer plans to introduce 30 million honey bees to farms

(Twitter, M&S News @MandSnews) “Did you know that bees contribute to a third of the food we eat? At M&S, we’re introducing more than 30 million bees to our Select Farms to help protect the future of these all-important pollinators and the planet. Follow our Bee Blog for updates”

(Twitter, Dave Goulson @DaveGoulson) “Just adding more honeybees is not the answer to declining pollinator numbers! It may do more harm than good. Come on @marksandspencer, do your homework :(”

China Airlines flies thousands of bees to Vancouver

(Simple Flying) On the evening of April 8th, one of China Airlines’ A350-900s arrived in Vancouver from Taipei carrying thousands of bees. The shipment of bees, originating in Australia, will be released at various locations across the province of British Columbia to pollinate fruit trees.

The latest in airport jobs: Beekeeper

(Air & Space) Pittsburgh International Airport’s beekeeping program recently won the 2020 Pennsylvania Governor’s Award for Environmental Excellence. And the beekeeping team is producing a manual for other airports that would like to establish beekeeping programs.


Policy/Law

California, almond growers join forces to protect bees – but some are skeptical

(Desert Sun) A coalition of agribusiness trade groups, the California Department of Food and Agriculture, and others launched the California Pollinator Coalition with the stated goal of protecting bees, butterflies and other species that pollinate crops but whose populations are declining. But some in the environmental community are wary of the industry-led effort. They question whether the new coalition will focus more on advocating for pollinators or shielding the agriculture industry from taking responsibility for the impacts that its pesticides and land-use have on native pollinator species. A representative for the coalition has said the group would not support protections for pollinators through rules or regulations such as the state’s Endangered Species Act.

Canada won’t ban pesticides deadly to bees, bugs, and their ecosystems

(Yorkton This Week) Decisions published recently by Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency will allow the continued widespread use of two neonicotinoids that are known to harm pollinators, aquatic insects, and ecosystems they support.

Lawsuit seeks Endangered Species Act protections for 19 species

(Center for Biological Diversity) The Center for Biological Diversity sued the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for failing to protect 19 imperiled species from across the United States under the Endangered Species Act. Those species include Franklin’s bumble bee from Oregon, the Mojave poppy bee in Nevada, and the Gulf Coast solitary bee in Florida.

The long-term needs of ecosystems should come before our knee-jerk expectations about infrastructure

(New York Times) “We need a different kind of infrastructure entirely, one that accommodates the natural world and puts the long-term needs of ecosystems before the knee-jerk urges of all of us so eager to get back to life as we knew it. The Biden administration has an opportunity to meld its new infrastructure proposal with its plan to protect a third of America’s lands and waters.”


Science

Insecticide residue in the soil harms wild bees

(Albany Herald) New research conducted at the University of Georgia shows the lethal and sublethal effects of imidacloprid residue on blue orchard mason bees by studying multiple pathways of exposure – including through the soil.

Study finds rapid evolution in foxgloves pollinated by hummingbirds

(British Ecological Society) The researchers compared foxgloves in the UK, which are pollinated by bumble bees, with foxgloves introduced in two independent events to Costa Rica and Colombia around 200 years ago, which are pollinated by different species of bumble bees and also hummingbirds. “We found foxglove populations in Costa Rica and Colombia now have flowers with longer tubes at the base, when compared to native populations.”

Bug brain soup’ expands menu for scientists studying animal brains

(ScienceDaily, University of Arizona) By mashing up brains from various insect species, neuroscientists introduce a practical technique for quantifying the neurons that make up the brains of invertebrate animals. In addition to revealing interesting insights into the evolution of insect brains, the work provides a more meaningful metric than traditional studies measuring brain size or weight.

Unusual fossil reveals last meal of prehistoric pollinator

(ScienceDaily, University of Bristol) An amber fossil of a Cretaceous beetle has shed some light on the diet of one of the earliest pollinators of flowering plants. Besides being a visitor of flowering plants, researchers now have conclusive evidence that the fossilized insect also fed on their pollen.


Society/Culture

Biking 10,000 miles with monarchs

(Smithsonian) “I set off to be the first person to cycle alongside the butterflies to raise awareness of their alarming decline.”

How museum collections advance knowledge of human health

(Smithsonian) The National Museum of Natural History’s 146 million artifacts and specimens do more than collect dust in the museum’s display cases. They are important sources of information for scientific research being conducted all around the world. Here are six ways the museum’s collections have contributed to our understanding of health and medicine.


One More Thing…

“To this day, my favorite science story ever is How We Learned that Bees can Perceive Time” From Tom Lum @TomLumPerson via Twitter.