Early land clearance helped Fijian bee. Alaska bumble bees are thriving. Single honey bee is making an immortal clone army. How to prepare children for ecological decline.
(EurekAlert, Flinders University) After centuries of human impact on the world’s ecosystems, a new study details an example of how a common native bee species has flourished since the very first land clearances by humans on Fiji.
(High Country News) Researchers and conservationists are embarking on an unprecedented effort to figure out just how many bees, including bumble bees, are buzzing around their enormous and largely unsurveyed state. The first-ever Alaska bee atlas project is underway, and bumblebees will play a starring role. “People don’t come to Denali and other parks in Alaska to look at bumblebees, but they should.”
(The Wildlife Society) Conservation for bumble bees in Illinois is likely lacking in wooded areas where flowers are fewer but critical to their life cycle. Researchers delved into a 22-year-long Illinois Natural History Survey on vegetation cover in the state’s grasslands, forests and wetlands to determine the resources available for bumble bees, like the endangered rusty patch bumble bee.
(Michigan State University) The Project Wingspan grant is part of a larger effort to make the campus pollinator friendly. Project Wingspan is a three-year project through the Pollinator Partnership (pollinator.org) designed to increase the quality, quantity, and connectivity of pollinator habitat across the Midwest and Great Lakes region.
(EurekAlert, Princeton University) The world’s human population is expanding, which means even more agricultural land will be needed to provide food for this growing population. However, choosing which areas to convert is difficult and depends on agricultural and environmental priorities, which can vary widely. A new study illustrates this challenge by using several different approaches to solve the same puzzle: Given a target amount of food, where should new croplands be put to minimize environmental or biodiversity impacts?
(British Ecological Society, video) News headlines in recent years have proclaimed that over 40% of all insect species are in decline, and many approach extinction. But are these numbers correct? Is the reality better, or even much worse, than we think? Entomologist, broadcaster, and author Professor Adam Hart leads a panel debate of international insect experts to discuss these headlines, crunch the numbers and analyze the fact and fiction behind global insect extinction.
(Capital Press) Hot, dry weather in Oregon’s Willamette Valley is causing some of honey bees' natural pollen sources to bloom earlier than normal. When that happens, beekeepers may need to buy additional sugar syrup to feed their colonies later in the summer. But syrup is expensive, and the more it takes to keep honey bees from starving, the more it will potentially drive up rates for farmers to rent hives to pollinate their crops.
(CBS 58) Two Democratic state lawmakers introduced the new legislation. The “Save the Bees with the Pollinator Protection Package” would prohibit certain insecticides by state agencies, and allows local governments to limit or prohibit the usage of certain insecticides.
(Center for Biological Diversity) The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had proposed removing a flowering plant called the golden paintbrush, in the Pacific Northwest, from the endangered species list due to its recovery. The plant, which can grow up to a foot high, was listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act in 1997, with only 10 known populations in Washington and British Columbia. Now, thanks in part to replanting efforts, at least 48 sites of golden paintbrush have been documented – more than 560,000 plants. Golden paintbrush habitat supports the Fender’s blue butterfly, which the Service proposed to downlist from endangered to threatened due to the species’ recovery in Oregon.
(AP) The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Recovery Challenge grant was awarded for a five-year project to protect the 14 plants, which are all listed as endangered or threatened by federal authorities. The $780,000 grant will support work by a partnership led by Georgia’s Department of Natural Resources.It will also increase the capacity to preserve plants at the State Botanical Garden of Georgia, Atlanta Botanical Garden and the Chattahoochee Nature Center and to spread expertise and support to others in the Georgia Plant Conservation Alliance.
(The Intercept) Interviews with more than two dozen experts on pesticide regulation – including 14 who worked at the EPA’s Office of Pesticide Programs, or OPP – described a federal environmental agency that is often unable to stand up to the intense pressures from powerful agrochemical companies, which spend tens of millions of dollars on lobbying each year and employ many former EPA scientists once they leave the agency. The enormous corporate influence has weakened and, in some cases, shut down the meaningful regulation of pesticides in the U.S. and left the country’s residents exposed to levels of dangerous chemicals not tolerated in many other nations.
(Live Science) When hives of the African lowland honeybee (Apis mellifera scutella) collapse, they do so because of an invisible inner threat: the growing, immortal clone army of a rival bee subspecies (Apis mellifera capensis). A new study reveals the genetic foundations of this strange and formidable adaptation.
(Novus Light Technologies Today) Earlier studies have shown that bees from colonies infested with varroa mites have reduced homing and flight capacity. However, it was not known whether flight maneuverability and related learning capability were also affected. New research found that worker bees in infested colonies did not learn to improve their landing over time like their counterparts in control colonies.
(Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg) To create the three-dimensional atlas, the research team took micro-CT images of ten heads of buff-tailed bumble bees. From these, they first extracted the image data showing the brains. In each of these data stacks, 30 brain regions of the bumble bee were manually reconstructed in three dimensions. On a high-performance computing cluster, a standard brain was then calculated from the ten data sets, based on their mean values.
(Welland Tribune) By teaching children to care for nature, which is in peril, will we set them up for a lifetime of sorrow?
(TechCrunch) The startup uses proprietary scientific technology that essentially makes bees healthier, particularly in cold weather. A wealth of research led the company to understand that certain plant-based foods and molecules, when fed to the bees, can reduce the mortality rate of bees by up to 70 percent, and help them perform better in colder weather. The company also offers a second product called ToBEE, which trains the bees to target a specific crop, such as blueberries or almonds. Beeflow claims that these products combined have increased crop yields for farmers up to 90%. Beeflow recently announced the close of a $8.3 million Series A round.
One More Thing…
(Smithsonian) Several years ago, a group of researchers found fossilized poop, known as a coprolite, in the village of Krasiejów, Poland. Naturally, they decided to scan it using powerful X-rays. Preserved inside were several of the first ever fully intact beetles discovered in a coprolite. These tiny bugs, about half-an-inch long, had fragile features such as antennae and legs exquisitely preserved. “This is not an amber, and yet it's a spectacular preservation.”