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The DNA of hundreds of insect species is in your tea. When humans are forced to replace the bees they killed. Urban ag can promote bee communities in tropical cities.
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Photo: Vikas S Rao
(Eurasia Review) Urbanization is a primary threat to biodiversity. However, scientists know little about how urbanization affects biodiversity and ecosystem services in tropical regions of the Global South. An international research team has investigated the effects of urbanization on bee communities in smallholder farms in and around Bangalore – a South Indian city with more than 13 million inhabitants. They found that social bees, such as wild honey bees, suffered more than large solitary bees or those that nest in cavities, which contrasts with results from temperate regions. Native flowering plants adjacent to farmland and crop diversification can help to maintain bee communities.
(Jefferson Public Radio) Over 70 people recently scoured Oregon’s Mt. Ashland in search of Franklin’s bumble bee as part of the annual Bee Blitz. It was the biggest turnout in the history of the survey, which has taken place in July for over a decade.
(National Geographic) The migratory monarch butterfly – the iconic subspecies common to North America – has been declared endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, the leading global authority on the status of biological diversity. The butterfly has declined between 23% and 72% in the past 10 years, according to the IUCN.
(The Conversation) “City lights that blaze all night are profoundly disrupting urban plants’ phenology – shifting when their buds open in the spring and when their leaves change colors and drop in the fall. New research I coauthored shows how nighttime lights are lengthening the growing season in cities, which can affect everything from allergies to local economies.”
Photo: Tan Jin, Xinhua, ZUMA
(WorldCrunch) It is the height of pollination season in the orchards of China’s southwestern Sichuan province. Perched on the apple trees’ branches, farmers of the Nanxin village twist and turn to reach the flowers that are the furthest away. Doing what bees do anywhere else in the world requires a certain degree of agility. Each year, all working-age villagers are summoned for hand-pollination.
(Phys.org, University of Reading) Scientists analyzed years of data on the poorly understood effect of pollinators on crop yield stability. They found there was 32% less variation in the yields of plants visited by bees and other pollinators than those grown in absence of pollinators.
(Indiana Daily Student) Researchers have concluded that Bombella apis, a microbe supplemented to honey bee larvae, plays a large role in the health of a colony. The microbe compensated for a poor diet and could potentially be added to colonies as a probiotic and protective measure.
(Bloomberg) GreenLight Biosciences is developing an RNA-based syrup to attack varroa mites. The RNA acts as an “off switch” that interferes with the mites, disrupting their ability to lay offspring that attach to bees.
(Alaska Public Media) The Alaska-bound bees were rescued from an Atlanta airport cargo bay in the April sun. They never made it to their final destinations, but the quick work of a well-established network of beekeepers across North America helped the honey bees found new homes. Some are now even tucked away on conservation land in the industrial outskirts of Atlanta.
Photo: Gosia Wozniacka, AP Photo
(CalMatters) California is acting later than many states in regulating neonicotinoids, but its rules would be among the nation’s most extensive. They would change how growers kill pests on nuts, citrus and other fruit crops.
(European Food Safety Authority) EFSA has launched a public consultation on its draft guidance document on the risk assessment of plant protection products and bees, covering honey bees, bumble bees and solitary bees. The consultation will run for 12 weeks to allow for maximum participation among interested parties.
Photo: Tolga Akmen, AFP, Getty Images
(Smithsonian Magazine) Minute remnants preserved among the dried leaves might help scientists track pests and monitor population declines.
(KQED, video) With their short tongues, Valley carpenter bees can’t easily drink the nectar from tubular flowers. So they use powerful mandibles to slice into the blooms and steal it. It’s called nectar robbing, since the plants don’t get the benefit of being pollinated by these enormous, fuzzy bees.
(Twitter, Cell Press @CellPressNews) “Researchers show that over 1,400 genes across 218 #insect species originated from bacteria, viruses, fungi, and plants. These genes may have been essential for insect #evolution.” Original paper
(The Guardian) They’ve been revered by the ancient Egyptians, lauded by Shakespeare, feared by Winnie-the-Pooh and, most recently, battled by Rowan Atkinson in the new Netflix hit “Man vs. Bee”. But love or loathe them, you may be surprised to discover just how much bees know. “We now have suggestive evidence that there is some level of conscious awareness in bees – that there is a sentience, that they have emotion-like states.”
Photo: Jae Ryu
(Entomology Today) A new paper describes how to build and operate a low-cost drone that can drag a sweep net through an agricultural field to catch live insect pests so managers can determine the best way to deal with them, if necessary. The scientists who authored the paper predict that drones like the one they describe could “benefit the integrated pest management community by minimizing time and efforts” of human workers in the field.
(University of Colorado Boulder) The three-year interdisciplinary project will explore how bees build honeycombs. The long-term goal is to leverage that understanding to create bio-inspired system designs in the fields of swarm robotics, collective construction, and lightweight cellular structures.
One More Thing…
Check out this video from Mac @scarpermac via Twitter. “How cool? Was just showing my kids the holes in leaves, ‘probably leafcutter bees’ when this happened.”