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IRA has $20 billion to fix farms – and help pollinators. How is climate change stressing bees? Look at their wings. Backyard mosquito spraying may be deadly to bees.
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Photo: John Flesher, AP
(AP News) It’s an increasingly familiar sight in U.S. cities and suburbs: A van pulls up to the curb. Workers wearing gloves, masks and other protective gear strap on backpack-type mechanisms with plastic hoses, similar to leaf blowers. Revving up the motors, they drench trees, bushes and even house walls with pesticides targeting an age-old menace: mosquitoes. But the chemical bombardment is beginning to worry scientists who fear over-use of pesticides is harming pollinators and worsening a growing threat to birds that eat insects.
(The Hill) New research points to climate change as a likely cause for lower rates of bumble bees in high-elevation areas above timberlines. The alpine study began in 2012, and experts assessed bee population data from three peaks in the Rocky Mountains in the U.S. Researchers also analyzed data on the species collected over 60 years and found the alpine bees have a low tolerance for warming temperatures. As the Earth warms, bees from lower elevations thrive and could potentially displace them – which might ultimately lead to the extinction of the alpine bumble bees.
(The Guardian) Encouraging numbers of bees have been recorded at a handful of locally funded wildflower projects in the South Downs, showing that populations can recover if given support. Sussex residents raised £75,000 to help a young charity, Bee Lines, plant wildflower oases across the South Downs national park, helped out with grants from South Downs National Park Trust. These oases have been planted across farms, community fields and road verges, creating wildflower corridors that are in effect a “road system” for bees, helping them to easily move across the landscape.
(Reasons to be Cheerful) The Netherlands is one of only a handful of countries that has a comprehensive strategy aimed directly at stemming the decline in pollinators. Launched in 2018, the National Pollinator Strategy encompasses a range of ongoing efforts and carries clear and measurable benchmarks for success. Already, it’s providing a roadmap for other countries looking to conserve their pollinators.
(Pittsburgh Post-Gazette) To quantify the anecdotal sightings, the Penn State Master Gardeners Program has launched a volunteer project to study the number of bees in the conservancy gardens. The results of the study will be ready next year.
Photo: WFP, Nizar Khadder
(UN Sustainable Development Group) In the small town of Er-rich, nestled in the plains of Morocco’s Atlas Mountains, a group of local men and women settled into a packed room as an FAO beekeeping training got underway. Through the course of the training, the beekeepers learned about the Saharan yellow bee, a particularly resilient and non-aggressive species that is well-adapted to the local climatic and breeding conditions of the Atlas Mountains.
(CBC) A team of researchers are developing a chemical compound – code-named 3C36 – that could paralyze and eventually kill parasitic varroa mites without harming bees.
Photo: David Paul Morris, Bloomberg, Getty Images
(Vox) The funds are designed, in part, to help farmers create habitat for pollinators like bees and butterflies, store more carbon in the soil, and make farms more resilient in the face of extreme weather.
(Nevada Current) In June, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed a change to the Endangered Species Act that would allow federally protected plants and animals to be introduced in areas where they’ve never lived before. By establishing “experimental populations” wildlife managers say the policy could improve efforts to preserve vulnerable species as worsening climate change causes habitats within their historical ranges to become inhospitable. Federal law allows plants and animals to be introduced into habitats outside of where they currently live, but only within their own historical range. If finalized, the proposed rule could have far reaching implications.
(Civil Eats) In recent years, Illinois and Florida have passed legislation protecting citizens’ right to garden on their property. A movement is underway to pass more laws around the country.
Photo: Michael Probst, AP
(Washington Post) A team of British researchers has found that four bumble bee species they studied appear to have become increasingly stressed by climate change over the past century. To arrive at their results, the scientists measured the wings of thousands of bumble bee specimens collected over more than 100 years and housed in a network of natural history museums. Using digital cameras and special software, they looked for subtle asymmetries in the wing structure – a signal of environmental stressors that could affect bee growth and reproduction.
(Frontiers in Science) Researchers show for the first time that honey bee foragers exposed to the pesticides sulfoxaflor and imidacloprid have an impaired optomotor response, which makes them poor at keeping themselves on a straight trajectory while moving. This impairment is accompanied by damage to brain cells and dysregulation of detoxification genes.
(BBC) The study, nicknamed Game of Drones, will look at whether male bees cross the sea to seek a new queen. Hundreds of males have been marked on the thorax with a different color for five of the inhabited islands off the southwestern tip of the U.K. Female bees are already reported to cross for foraging.
(Twitter, Chris Pull @chris_pull) “Brainy bees are more efficient foragers in spring when floral resources are abundant, suggesting rich, complex environments are equally as strong drivers of cognitive evolution as harsh ones.” Original paper
(Twitter, Paul Williams @PaulWilliamsNHM) “Bumblebee Biogeography (map of species richness) conserves deep historical patterns precisely because bbs are poor at dispersing & establishing over seas/deserts, so species don’t occur everywhere they could – but seas/deserts come & go” Original paper
Photo: U.S. National Archives, Wikimedia
(CBS) The wife of former President Jimmy Carter has a fascination with butterflies dating back to childhood. That interest led to the formation of the Rosalynn Carter Butterfly Trail, which was established in southwest Georgia after the former first lady grew concerned about the future of butterflies.
One More Thing…
Check out this fantastic short video by Krystle Hickman @BeeSipOnline of Anthophora flavocincta creating and camouflaging her burrow.