New hot spot of bee diversity. Asking Amazon to save the bees. Training bees to smell coronavirus. Bee communication can signal colony health.

Conservation

A newly discovered hot spot of bee diversity in North America

(EurekAlert, Pensoft Publishers) The United States-Mexico border traverses through large expanses of unspoiled land in North America, including a newly discovered worldwide hot spot of bee diversity. Concentrated in 16 sq. kilometers of protected Chihuahuan Desert are more than 470 bee species, a remarkable 14% of the known United States bee fauna.

Cavity occupancy by wild honey bees: Need for evidence of ecological impacts

(Twitter, Dr Manu Saunders @ManuSaunders) “...introduced honey bees establish feral colonies and may outcompete native fauna for natural cavities. However, we still know very little about how honey bees impact cavity-using communities” The original paper.

Missouri encourages people to help bumble bees

(KOAM) The Missouri Department of Conservation is giving people the chance to help Missouri’s bumble bees through the Missouri Bumble Bee Atlas community science project. The Atlas is a statewide community science project aimed at tracking and conserving Missouri’s native bumble bees. Participants across the state are asked to conduct bumble bee surveys and report back their findings. Survey methods are catch-and-release, so no bees are harmed, and data collection can be completed on cell phones.

Busy bees in Colombia get respite in bamboo hotels

(Reuters) Solitary bees are enjoying new digs in Barbosa, Colombia, where tiny hotels built by the Aburra Valley Metropolitan Authority provide places to rest and recover after a busy day pollinating. “These little bees are supremely sensitive to poisons and since they don’t produce honey no one speaks up for them, so we’re coming to the rescue.”

Wasps are valuable for ecosystems, economy and human health (just like bees)

(ScienceDaily, University College London) “Wasps are understudied relative to other insects like bees, so we are only now starting to properly understand the value and importance of their ecosystem services. Here, we have reviewed the best evidence there is, and found that wasps could be just as valuable as other beloved insects like bees, if only we gave them more of a chance.”

Minnesota Zoo works to save endangered butterfly species

(CBSN Minnesota) The Dakota Skippers and Poweshiek Skipperlings are both native species experiencing a rapid decline that zoo officials are targeting for helping. “Really, we are in triage mode.”


Economics

We’re calling on Amazon to help save the bees

(Environment Maine) “When it comes to maintaining our lawns and gardens, there are plenty of safe products on the market. Instead, Amazon still sells products with bee-killing neonics, such as imidacloprid. Five years ago, conservationists across the country called on The Home Depot and Lowe’s to remove neonics from their shelves. And even though there's still work to be done on removing these bee-killing pesticides, it led to progress: Both companies have taken important steps to phase out neonics. Now, it’s time to call on Amazon to do the same.”


Policy/Law

Grad student turns class assignment into buzzworthy legislation

(The Eagle) What began as a technical writing project for a Texas A&M graduate has turned into proposed legislation to save native bee species. The Busy Bee Tax Bill would give Texans a tax break for establishing bee-friendly environments on their property through home gardens. The purpose is to create havens for pollinating insects, especially any bees other than honey bees.

U.S. fights new deadline for rare plant protections in Nevada

(ABC) The Biden administration says a U.S. judge exceeded his authority when he gave federal wildlife officials a May 21 deadline to decide whether to formally propose endangered species protections for a rare desert wildflower at the center of a fight over a proposed lithium mine in Nevada.

Another Wisconsin town participating in No Mow May to help bees

(WKOW) “We were able to unanimously [pass] this resolution which allows homeowners, if they’re interested, in a very low cost way, to not mow their lawns for the month of May.”


Science

The secret life of bee signals can communicate colony health

(EurekAlert, Frontiers) Recording the electrostatic energy of honey bee hives offers a “canary in the coal mine” look into ecosystem threats and environmental conditions. “We were thrilled by the potential of directly accessing the social communication of bees with our method. For the first time we can ask the bees themselves whether their colony is in a healthy condition or whether they suffer from unfavorable environmental conditions including those caused by humans.”

Training bees to smell the coronavirus

(Wageningen University & Research) Start-up InsectSense and Wageningen Bioveterinary Research have trained bees to extend their tongues when they smell the coronavirus. The coronavirus, like other diseases, causes metabolic changes in the body that causes a smell. Bees can be trained within minutes to recognize the scent of samples infected with SARS-CoV-2.

Carpenters bees live like grad students

(Twitter, Maddie Ostwald @MaddieOstwald) “Why do carpenter bees live in groups? Maybe for the same reason grad students have roommates: it’s too expensive to get your own place. Find out more in our new paper on energetic costs of nest construction...” The original paper.

Large bumble bees start work earlier

(ScienceDaily, University of Exeter) Larger bumble bees are more likely to go out foraging in the low light of dawn. Scientists used RFID – similar technology to contactless card payments – to monitor when bumble bees of different sizes left and returned to their nest.

The ants, bees and wasps of Canada, Alaska and Greenland

(EurekAlert, Pensoft Publishers) The last distributional survey of Hymenoptera in North America was published in 1979, where about 6000 described species were recorded from Canada and 600 from Alaska. The current survey lists 8933 species in Canada and 1513 in Alaska, marking an increase of 49% and 152%, respectively. A total of 9250 described species are recorded from northern North America. Considering that there are approximately 154,000 described species of Hymenoptera, northern North America has about 6% of the current world total.

Urban landscape genetics: Are biologists keeping up with the pace of urbanization?

(Life in the City) “As we know, the landscape of urban areas is changing rapidly as land is converted from natural to anthropogenic space. Additionally, new technology has allowed us to collect more data at a lower cost than ever before. The combination of these two events led my co-authors and me to ask ‘Are biologists keeping up with the pace of urbanization?’ in a recent review article published in Current Landscape Ecology Reports.”

Museum specimens shown to be “treasure troves” of genomic data

(Entomology Today) Around the world, natural history museums are home to thousands of rarely opened cabinet drawers filled with countless neatly pinned insect specimens, some of them many decades or even centuries old. Using an approach reminiscent of Jurassic Park, researchers have found that those long-dead specimens still harbor accessible genomic data, and they are now using it to determine how closely different species and families of insects are related.

Your city just got hotter: NOAA announced new climate normals

(CNN) The new climate normals released by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reveal that weather across the US is warming. The current normals data set, which represent the average temperature, precipitation and rainfall for 1991 through 2020, highlight that most of the country has warmed compared to normals for 1981 through 2010, except for the north-central US. The West is becoming drier and the East is turning wetter.


Society/Culture

Loyalty nearly killed my beehive

(Nautilus) “The beekeeper needs to understand what it is the hive wants. In my case, it wanted to die.”

Cincinnati Art Museum launches adopt-a-bee program

(Cincinnati Business Courier) Two new beehives, filled with 60,000 bees, were installed on the museum grounds in partnership with the Queen City Pollinator Project. Now the public can support the museum and its community wellness efforts by donating to the Adopt-a-Bee program.

Grant Wood Fellow creates interactive community art project emphasizing importance of bees

(The Daily Iowan) The hexagonal, carbon steel mesh structures that make up the installation were painted yellow by Smyrniotis to resemble a beehive. She said the formations serve to emphasize the importance of pollinators, and have involved the entire community by giving them an opportunity to create their own bees and add them to the hive. The only requirement for the bees? They have to be made out of recyclable materials that aren’t paper or cardboard.

Manhattan’s God of Insects

(Nautilus) Lawrence Forcella reminds us why we loved bugs as kids.


Technology

This automated superhive could help save the global bee population

(Fast Company) A three-year-old startup Beewise has created a fully automated superhive, powered by AI and robotics, that enables 24/7 remote monitoring and dramatically reduces annual colony loss. Here’s how it works...


One More Thing…

“Exploring the tiny worlds of lichens has been one of my saving graces this past year in an anxiety-ridden pandemic.” From Alena Ebeling-Schuld (Owl & Bear Studio) @AlenaESPhoto via Twitter.