Documenting Montana's wild bees. A new, colorful way to attract pollinators to crops – and benefit farmers. Australian Mint releases honey bee coin: What message does it send about bees?
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Photo: Killarnee, Wikimedia Commons
(ScienceDaily, University of Würzburg) Several studies have identified a significant decline in insect populations in recent decades. The focus so far has been on the loss of suitable habitats for insects. But what are the consequences of land use in combination with warmer and dryer climates for pollinating insects? And what could be done to mitigate possible negative consequences? “We conclude that a large proportion of forested land in the landscape could serve as refuge for insects from climate warming.”
Photo: Samantha Nobes
(Entomology Today) Intensive agriculture practices often depend on pollinators for success, but these practices also tend to eliminate the plants that are popular among bees, wasps and other pollinators. Farmers and scientists have looked at planting wildflowers in growing areas, but a team of researchers looked at an alternative source of attraction: specialty cut flowers. These flowers – marigolds, zinnias, strawflower, and others that are grown only during a short season – could produce a win-win situation for growers. They could attract a wide diversity of pollinators and provide supplemental economic benefits to farmers. Most specialty cut flowers in the U.S. are imported from near-equatorial countries, but growing them here could provide an alternative to imports. But do these flowers attract pollinators? And how much?
(Civil Eats) In March, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported that while the number of honey bee colonies in the country declined by just 0.4% in 2021 compared to 2020, overall honey production dropped by 126 million pounds, the result of a 14% drop in honey yield per colony. In other words, the same number of bees produced significantly less honey. At the same time, bees are dying in greater numbers: Reported rates of colony loss between April 2020 and April 2021 were the second-highest loss rates recorded since they were first tracked in 2006. During that one year, beekeepers lost 45.5% of their colonies.
(CBC) Cranberry farmer Luc Decubber has finally found enough honey bees to pollinate his vines this year. It wasn’t a simple feat and it’s one he worries could become even harder to achieve in years to come. Decubber is concerned by the declining honey bee population in Canada because it could impact the viability of his farm.
(PR Newswire, Comvita) “Comvita, the global leader in Manuka Honey, announces the second year of its bee rescue program, partnering with beekeepers and rescuers to relocate hives set to be terminated... Building on the success of its debut campaign in 2021, when the brand rescued 5 million bees, Comvita has pledged to save 10 million bees in honor of World Bee Day on May 20, 2022. Comvita will work with independent beekeepers across the U.S. to provide the resources they desperately need to safely remove and relocate hives. These hives will be placed in areas where they can thrive, saving bees and ultimately benefiting bee populations.”
Photo: Royal Australian Mint
Royal Australian Mint releases $2 honey bee coin to mark bicentenary of the industry in Australia
(ABC News) Marking 200 years since the insect’s introduction to Australia, the $2 collector’s coin features two honey bees, commemorating “both the remarkable creatures and conscientious beekeepers”.
(The Conversation) “The coin celebrates an invasive alien species, and continues a long tradition in Australia of romanticising introduced fauna. Meanwhile, we’ve missed an important opportunity to showcase Australia’s native pollinators, some of which are threatened with extinction.”
(Seven Days) A key Senate committee has approved a bill meant to protect bees by encouraging farmers to limit the use of seeds coated in pesticides. H.626 is a compromise intended to resolve a simmering feud between dairy farmers and beekeepers. Dairy farmers say seeds covered in neonicotinoid pesticides protect their corn crops, which they use to feed their cows, while beekeepers say the chemicals are killing honey bees and other pollinators.
Photo: RKD Peterson
(NBC Montana) Near Montana State University is an unassuming building that houses seven rooms filled with the Montana Entomology Collection – some specimens dating back over 100 years. Within those rooms is an ongoing project to document the species of bees native to Montana. The Wild Bees of Montana project, slated to take 15 years to complete, is in its fifth year. The bees collected range in size from no bigger than the head of a pin to roughly the size of a half-dollar. “I think nowadays a lot of people probably think there’s not a lot left to be discovered. And I feel like my mind has been blown every time we find something, a new genus, or a new species in the state that I’ve never seen before.”
(Science News) Mouse-eared bats buzz like wasps and bees when grasped, and the sound seems to deter predatory owls. These bats may be the only mammal known to mimic an insect for protection.
(British Ecological Society) The involvement of citizen scientists, paraecologists and volunteers in ecological monitoring has burgeoned. At the same time, the training of professionals versed in practical conservation is becoming even more recognized and valued by employers. Therefore it is timely to consider whether the skills and experience obtained by the volunteers could be transferred to their future employment in ecological professions. This workshop invites contributors to share experience and further discuss key questions on what are/should be the basic core skills that need to be taught to volunteers; and what resources and platforms have previous programs used to train their volunteers.
Photo: National Museum of Natural History
(Science) When it comes to naming species they’ve discovered, scientists often like to have a little fun. There’s Ba humbugi, a Fiji snail referencing one of literature’s crankiest men. Or Spongiforma squarepantsii, a mushroom named after everyone’s favorite cartoon sponge. And for decades, researchers have named species after their colleagues or iconic researchers as a way to honor them, which is why some 300 species of animals are named after Charles Darwin. But that tradition may perpetuate societal biases, according to a new study of parasite names. The scientific names of nearly 3,000 recently identified bloodsuckers, hijackers, and other banes of the biological world mostly honor men.
One More Thing…
“A super cool example of a snail shell cut open to reveal the mason bee nest inside.” From じゅん @higeoyaji_8 via Zach Portman @zachportman via Twitter.