World Bee Day. Roads disrupt pollination. Restoring an entire ecosystem. Welcome to Pollinator Park 2050.

Happy World Bee Day!

Yesterday was World Bee Day and I'm thrilled that the Bees of Grand Staircase Escalante was the official film for Australia's World Bee Day festivities hosted by the Wheen Bee Foundation! It was shown to support Taxonomy Australia’s efforts to discover and document all of the continent's native bees. I also had the pleasure of being interviewed by Dr. Kevin Thiele about the making of the film and the importance of protected places; a recording of our conversation was shown as part of a live panel of Australian bee and pollination experts. Many thanks to everyone who made this film and project possible!

Thank You!

Also on World Bee Day – and everyday – thank you to everyone who is working to understand and protect the incredible diversity of bees (and invertebrates) in the world. Fieldwork and lab work; conservation, education and advocacy; projects big and small – your efforts are greatly appreciated! Keep up the great work!


Conservation

Roads and highways disrupt bee pollination

(Popular Science) Researchers placed potted flowering plants at 47 sites near roads that had a range of speed limits as well as a variety of sizes. They doused the flowers with a fluorescent pigment, a stand-in for pollen, which would be picked up by a visiting pollinator and deposited at their next flower destination. A second, un-pigmented set of plants were placed across the road from the first, and a third set of un-pigmented plants were situated the same distance away on the same side of the road. These plants were checked at night using UV lights to track whether they’d picked up any pigments. The researchers found that plants on the opposite side of the road ended up with far less pigment than the plants placed on the same side of the road.

Intensive agriculture could drive loss of bees and other tropical pollinators

(EurekAlert, University College London) Researchers found that overall, low levels of land use intensity appear to have beneficial effects for pollinators, even compared to natural vegetation, while increasing intensity of different land uses was associated with reductions in species richness and total abundance. In urban areas across the globe, total abundance of pollinators declined by 62% from minimal to intense use.

Restoring an entire ecosystem

(Friends of Nachusa Grasslands) A central goal in restoration ecology is to put degraded ecosystems back together. A logical starting point is to restore the native plant community. And, hopefully, these diverse plant communities support many diverse animal species. However, researchers have found that the best explanation of animal biodiversity had little to do with plant biodiversity.

Amid climate pressures, a call for a plan to move endangered species

(Yale Environment 360) The conservation community has fiercely debated whether to help species move as climate change and habitat loss threaten more extinctions. Now, scientists are calling on an upcoming international conference to set guidelines for this complex – and potentially risky – challenge.


Economics

City buzz: How urban beehives and artificial insemination are protecting Australia’s bees – in pictures

(The Guardian) Bee populations around the world are under significant threat from extreme climate events, destruction of natural habitat, intensive farming practices, pests and disease. Australian apiarists and scientists are developing innovative solutions to protect the country’s bee population, increase genetic diversity and increase numbers.

Stolen beehives devastate French beekeepers

(NPR) In France, beekeepers are waking up to find their hives stolen. There’s been an increase in thefts across the country, with beekeepers blaming a possible international network of beekeeper thieves. Last year, 400 hives were stolen. But already in 2021, that number is more than 600, says the president of the French national beekeeping union.


Policy/Law

Newsom’s green budget has something for everyone – even bees

(AP) The budget includes $30 million to create habitat for honey bees trucked into the state to pollinate valuable crops like almonds.

Washington state farmers abuzz about absence of native bees

(South Whidbey Record) South Whidbey farmers are sounding the alarm about a low number and a late emergence of native pollinators this spring and the impact of a recent spate of clear-cuts to the forest’s ecosystem. Eighteen farmers approached the county commissioners at a recent meeting about the issue.

Maine lawmakers advance bill to protect bees

(Environment Maine) The Maine House and Senate voted to advance a bill that would prohibit certain neonicotinoid, or “neonic,” pesticides for outdoor residential use. Environment Maine helped rally more than 10,000 Mainers who signed their support for the bill, which could be signed into law this summer.


Science

Previously unknown letter reveals Einstein’s thinking on bees, birds and physics

(Phys.org, RMIT University) “Remarkably, it is clear through his writing that Einstein envisaged new discoveries could come from studying animals’ behaviors.”

How to become ‘ant-i-social

(EurekAlert, Arizona State University) Ants are renowned in the insect world for their complex social structure and behaviors. Remarkably, there are also rare instances of ants not playing well with others and shrugging off their societal duties to become free-loading parasites amongst their free-living relatives. Researchers have now obtained and analyzed the full DNA genome sequences of three rare “social parasite” leaf-cutting ant species to better understand the differences between them and their respective host species.


Society/Culture

Angelina Jolie embraces bees – and female beekeepers as environmental guardians

(National Geographic) The film star and humanitarian talks about training women to care for bees in UNESCO biosphere reserves... and about the bee that got under her dress.

(Twitter, Sheila Colla, Ph.D @SaveWildBees) “This gets a NOPE from me on #WorldBeeDay. I wish ENGOs would stop perpetuating the myth that more managed bees, esp in protected areas, is somehow a good thing.”

Climate change disinformation is evolving. So are efforts to fight back

(ScienceNews) Researchers are testing games and other ways to help people recognize climate change denial.


Technology

Welcome to Pollinator Park

(European Commission) “Do you remember a time when the sky was filled with birds and bees, and colourful fruit grew from the trees? Did that world cease to exist, or did you simply cease to notice it?” Set in the year 2050, Pollinator Park is a 30-minute interactive virtual reality experience that immerses you in a futuristic world where man and nature co-exist in harmony, hoping to change your perspective and help turn the tide. Video trailer.


One More Thing…

Before there were screens to distract us from nature, there were... um... books. Illustration by Dick Sargent, Saturday Evening Post cover (1953).