Forest flowers key to bumble bee survival. Kenyan farmers forced to hand-pollinate. N.Y.C. bans pesticides in parks. New "bird book" for bees.

Conservation

Spring forest flowers likely a key to bumble bee survival, Illinois study finds

(University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign) For more than a decade, ecologists have been warning of a downward trend in bumble bee populations across North America, with habitat destruction a primary culprit in those losses. While efforts to preserve wild bees in the Midwest often focus on restoring native flowers to prairies, a new study finds evidence of a steady decline in the availability of springtime flowers in wooded landscapes. “The forest is a really important habitat for bees early in the season that often gets overlooked in pollinator conservation planning.”

Bee population steady in Dutch cities thanks to pollinator strategy

(The Guardian) Last week, more than 11,000 people from across the Netherlands participated in a bee-counting exercise as part of the fourth edition of the national bee census. The results for urban bees were steady. Bee hotels, bee stops and a honey highway are some of the techniques the Dutch are crediting with keeping their urban bee population steady in recent years, after a period of worrying decline.

DCs for Bees plan tells data centers to support pollination

(DCD) The DCs for Bees initiative has launched a Pollinator Plan, giving ideas for making data centers and campuses more friendly to pollinators. Suggested actions include preserving existing hedges which contain forage plants, and reducing the mowing of lawns to allow wild flowers to grow. Bees can be given nesting places with “bee hotels” hanging on walls and earth banks for mining bees. DCs for Bees also suggests drilling holes in wood on site to allow more nesting space. The plan is backed by the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan from Ireland's National Biodiversity Data Centre.


Economics

M&S faces backlash over plan to release 30 million honey bees

(The Guardian) An attempt by Marks & Spencer to “do good for the environment” has backfired. The UK retailer has placed up to 1,000 beehives on 25 farms to produce single-estate honey for customers as part of its five-year Farming with Nature program. But critics say M&S should focus on restoring native habitats instead of releasing millions of honey bees, which are just one of the nearly 270 bee species in the UK, many of which are in sharp decline. “There are not enough wild flowers to support the populations we’ve got. It’s about creating a better countryside for pollinators, not chucking more pollinators out into the countryside – we need to get more pollen and nectar into the countryside.”

Kenyan experts: Pesticides killing bees, forcing farmers to hand-pollinate

(Voice of America) Kenyan farmers say they are being forced to hand-pollinate their crops due to a decline in bee populations from pesticides. Kenya’s insect experts say the chemicals, meant to kill desert locusts and other pests, are killing off bees and other pollinating insects.

Little wooden houses – for Missouri’s native bees – filling St. Louis backyards

(St. Louis Post-Dispatch) A hundred wooden bee houses sit side by side on the porch of a south St. Louis County home, like a tiny, buzzing cityscape. Scott Klein designed the BeeBarns himself, to give wing to a resurgence of the prodigious pollinators. A few years ago, there wasn’t much interest in them. Now, he sells hundreds of bee homes a year, at $20 each. “I like the idea of us providing them a habitat and taking a custodial position.”

Milan gets buzzier with 1 million bees in designer hives

(AP) Italy’s financial and fashion capital of Milan got a little buzzier with a project that mixes biodiversity with art. A bee collective introduced 17 new colonies to new designer hives, bringing to 1 million the city’s population of honeybees cultivated by the Urban Beehives project. Creator Claudia Zanfi said the project aims to “create an intersection between artistic language and biodiversity.”

San Antonio has big plans for its new honey bees

(Airport World) The airport installed two active bee hives with 40,000 bees to begin the honey-making process on the property. Each hive starts with about 20,000 bees with the potential of growing to 60,000 bees. The program is designed to teach children the importance of bees and crop pollination, green living, ignite passion in nature enthusiasts and bring together the local community and airport concessionaires.

Queen-bee breeders say lack of rain may intensify demand

(AgAlert) Warm, sunny spring days have been ideal for beekeepers who produce queen bees, but those beekeepers warn that lack of rain this season will make for a difficult year for the pollinators to find enough forage to sustain their colonies. If colonies fail due to lack of nutrition, more queens will be needed to produce more bees, keeping queen breeders as busy as the bees they work with.


Policy/Law

N.Y.C. bans pesticides in parks with push from unlikely force: Children

(New York Times) “A bunch of kindergartners,” now in seventh grade, worked years to urge the City Council to approve a ban on toxic pesticides in parks, playgrounds and other spaces.

Maine House and Senate vote to advance bill to limit neonics

(Environment Maine) Both the Maine House and Senate voted to advance a measure that would prohibit the use of certain neonicotinoids for outdoor residential use. The bill passed by a bipartisan 92-53 vote in the House and 27-7 in the Senate. While this is a clear signal that the bill has the backing to become law, the measure will face additional votes in the House and Senate before reaching the governor’s desk.

Coalition of environmental groups urges immediate passage of Save the Bees bill

(Insider NJ) The organizations are urging New Jersey Assembly legislative leaders to move forward with passage of A2070/S1016, a bill which eliminates unnecessary non-agricultural use of neonicotinoid insecticides.

Legal Victory Compels Federal Government to Decide on Tiehm’s Buckwheat Protections

(Center for Biological Diversity) a federal judge ruled that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service must decide within 30 days whether or not to protect Nevada’s rare Tiehm’s buckwheat under the Endangered Species Act.


Science

New survey of Delaware’s native bees

(Mt. Cuba Center) “This study of Mt. Cuba Center’s gardens and outlying natural lands documented 3,493 individual bees of 135 species during 2018-19. Due to the diverse and special nature of Mt. Cuba, as well as the fact that Delaware has generally been under sampled for bees, this project represents one of the most important bodies of information ever compiled for Delaware’s bees.”

Evaluating competition for forage plants between honey bees and wild bees in Denmark

(EurekAlert, PLOS) To guide conservation efforts, Danish researchers identify plants for which managed honey bees and wild bees – sometimes endangered species – compete when foraging.


Society/Culture

A new “bird book” for bees

(PolliNation) “Everybody remembers the Peterson bird guide; it has a little map of where the birds are, a picture of them, and some descriptions. We lack a bird book for the bees until now... I got wind that Dr. Messinger Carril and Dr. Wilson were working on a bird book for bees. They are going to be releasing later this year, in the spring, The Common Bees of the Eastern United States with a Common Bees of the Western United States to follow.”

Fire rips through historic South African library and plant collection

(Nature) Forest fires raging in South Africa’s Table Mountain National Park have reached the University of Cape Town, and gutted the reading room of its main library, which houses irreplaceable historical material on anthropology, ecology and politics.


Technology

PowerPollen’s ‘on-demand’ pollination technology

(AgFunderNews) Iowa’s PowerPollen has developed a method for applying preserved or fresh pollen outside the window of natural pollination of maize seed. With PowerPollen’s “on-demand” pollination tech, the process is no longer reliant on the male plant’s daily shedding window of approximately three hours.


One More Thing…

“I think I’ve got it, all the types of insect butt that there are” From Ainsley S @americanbeetles via Twitter.