Franklin's bumble bee now protected. Thousands of Australian native bees emerge. Stingless bees produce rare healthy sugar. A few Canadians upset by bee poop.
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(U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service) Franklin’s bumble bee has the smallest geographic range of any bumble bee in North America, and possibly the world. Found only in the hills of southwest Oregon and northern California, this elusive bee has always been hard to spot and has not been observed in its native habitat since 2006. Franklin’s bumble bees are likely impacted by a combination of factors including disease, small population size and pesticides. The range-wide decline of this species since the late 1990s and persistent threats mean this bee is at high risk of becoming extinct.
(The Guardian) Dawson’s burrowing bees, Amegilla dawsoni, emerge from the ground for a few weeks every spring to breed and dig new burrows, which they will line with wax and fill with pollen and eggs. This year, higher than average rainfall and growth of the bees’ two favorite flowers could account for the larger than usual colony.
(ABC News) Little is known about many of the rare and critically endangered butterflies of Victoria, but a group of insect lovers and citizen scientists want to change that. Local Landcare groups, conservationists and a University of Melbourne entomologist will head to bushfire-ravaged Mallacoota to hunt for seven elusive species of butterfly. On the group’s most-wanted list are the vulnerable southern sedge-darter, the endangered large ant-blue, and the regionally extinct orange-ringlet Hypocysta adiante.
(Bellingham Herald) The first Asian giant hornet nest of 2021 has been found in a rural area north of Seattle on the Canadian border. Washington State Department of Agriculture staff had previously netted, tagged with trackers and released three hornets; one of these hornets eventually led staff to the nest.
(Entomology Today) A team of researchers from Montana State University’s College of Agriculture published a study outlining the risk of Vespa mandarinia establishing populations in the Pacific Northwest. They conducted risk assessments for every county in Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington – a total of 175 counties.
(Reuters) A scorching drought is slashing honey production in North Dakota, the top producing state of the sweet syrup. That means fewer honey bees can thrive, which leads to even less honey. The shortage of strong honey bee colonies, meanwhile, is putting West Coast cash crops like almonds, plums and apples at risk, according to more than a dozen interviews with farmers, bee experts, economists and farm industry groups.
(CBS Minnesota) The summer drought is causing plants to produce fewer flowers, and this means less nectar and pollen for bees. Other honey farms have reported a decline in bee population because there’s less food.
(AP) A federal judge in Arizona on Monday settled a lawsuit filed against the Department of Homeland Security and Customs and Border Protection, saying the agencies failed to study potential harms to the environment from increased enforcement along the U.S.-Mexico border. [Editor’s note: Areas along the U.S.-Mexico border have been documented as hotspots of bee biodiversity.]
(ScienceDaily, University of Queensland) Stingless bees are found throughout tropical and subtropical parts of the world and produce significantly less honey than their European honey bee counterparts. However, stingless bee honey is highly prized as a specialty food, noted in Indigenous cultures for its medicinal properties, and attracts a high price. Now new research has identified that the Tetragonula carbonaria stingless bee, which is native to Australia, is a powerhouse at converting regular table sugar into the rare low GI sugar trehalulose, found only in stingless bee honey and not as a major component in any other food. | Photo and sighting
(Twitter, Kelsey K. Graham, Ph.D @kelsey_k_graham) “We found that #honeybees & #bumblebees are exposed to a wide range of #pesticides in pollen. All 188 samples had pesticides, including those from unsprayed & organic farms. Honey bee samples had more active ingredients than bumble bees, perhaps due to wider foraging range.” Original paper
(Twitter, Janean Sharkey @janean_sharkey) “We documented a new #bee genus for Canada during field work for my graduate #research at #OjibwayPrairie Provincial Nature Reserve in southwestern Ontario. #TallgrassPrairie is extremely #biodiverse and home to many #rare plants, animals and arthropods!” Original paper
(Twitter, Duncan Westbury @DuncanWestbury) “Fascinating early view of this article demonstrating the role of honeybees in transmitting disease to ‘wild’ bees; modelling shows that with a greater number of flowers transmission is reduced. Another reason to diversify!” Original paper
(Live Science) While trekking through the tropical forests of northern Vietnam, scientists unexpectedly discovered wasp nests that glow fluorescent green under ultraviolet light.
(Yale Environment 360) The 1987 agreement limited the use of chlorofluorocarbons, chemicals commonly used in aerosol sprays, refrigerators, and air conditioners, which were shown to be tearing a hole in the ozone layer that shields the Earth from most of the Sun’s ultraviolet rays. By thinning the ozone layer, these chemicals would have allowed high levels of ultraviolet radiation to reach the planet’s surface, damaging plants and inhibiting their ability to soak up carbon dioxide, leading to further warming. These chemicals are also powerful heat-trapping gases, and would have fueled additional warming. “Thankfully, this is now a scenario that is science fiction. But as you can imagine, the consequences would have been absolutely dire.”
(CBC) In May, two residents of the New Brunswick town of Quispamsis filed a complaint about an increase of bee feces on their properties. The insects were leaving behind stains on their cars, patio furniture and even on people. Bee excrement is typically yellow flecks or globs that usually occur during what experts call a cleansing flight. A cleansing flight happens when a bee is able to emerge from its hive during a warm day to relieve itself after storing its excrement for an extended period of time. “I really don’t know how you would police it or whatnot, or even if it deserves any policing.”
(Science News) Racist relics can infuse both scientific and common names. But in contrast to scientific names – which are internationally standardized in Latin – common names live in the vernacular. They vary by language and region, and have a smaller scope than scientific names’ international reach, making them arguably simpler to change. Some get immortalized in field guides and formally recognized by scientific societies. These common names provide a useful shared language for scientists and the public, but they can also enshrine harmful legacies. In a groundswell of revision, scientists are wrestling with this heritage.
(University of Wisconsin Madison) The Wisconsin Wild Bee App, is the key tool for a new citizen science project to observe and collect high-quality data on the abundance, diversity and activity of wild bees in the state.
One More Thing…
From Sheila Colla, Ph.D @SaveWildBees via Twitter.