Climate’s Effects on Flowers Critical for Bumble Bees

by Mick Kulikowski, NC State University

In a study that shows the importance of climate change on critical pollinators, North Carolina State University researchers found that earlier and longer flowering seasons can have poor effects on the bumble bees that rely on these flowers to live and thrive.

“We wanted to understand how climate change is affecting bee populations – specifically three species of bumble bees that live at higher altitudes and are important pollinators,” said Rebecca Irwin, an NC State professor of applied ecology and co-principal investigator on the study, which is published in the journal Ecology Letters. “We asked whether variation in snowmelt timing and summer precipitation directly affected bumble bee colonies and their survival, or if the snowmelt and precipitation effects on flowers were more important. It turns out that the effects on flowers played a more critical role in affecting bee populations.” Continue reading

Finding of self-medicating behavior in bees not supported in further research

In Morning Ag Clips

A new study of possible self-medicating behavior in bumble bees conducted by researchers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst reports that a once-promising finding was not supported by further experiments and analysis.

Doctoral candidate Evan Palmer-Young and his advisor, evolutionary ecologist Lynn Adler, had reported in 2015 that a common parasitic infection of bumble bees was reduced when the bees fed on anabasine in sugar water. Anabasine is a natural alkaloid, nicotine-like chemical found in plant nectar. The researchers had hoped their finding was evidence that bees may use “nature’s medicine cabinet” to rid themselves of the intestinal parasite Crithidia bombi, which can decrease the survival of queen bees over the winter and hamper the success of young colonies in the spring. Continue reading

Build native bee nesting sites to attract pollinating bees to your landscape

By Josh Fuder, University of Georgia

When most people think about bees, honeybees and their hives of hexagonal, wax honeycombs come to mind. Unlike most bees, honeybees are social insects. Only 6 percent of bee species are social.

There are approximately 4,000 species of native bees in North America and 542 species live in Georgia. Native bees nest in the ground or in cavities, like hollow stems or bored holes in wood. According to the Xerces Society, only 250 female orchard mason bees are required to pollinate an acre of apples. This same task would typically require 15,000 to 20,000 forager honeybees. Continue reading

Lab and Apiary Research Associate at EPA

The EPA Environmental Research and Business Support Program has an immediate opening for a Lab and Apiary Research Associate with the Office of Research and Development at the EPA’s Research Triangle facility in Raleigh-Durham, NC.

The Cardiopulmonary and Immunotoxicology Branch (CIB) of the Environmental Public Health Division (EPHD) provides expertise in the conduct of toxicology studies that assess the impact of environmental exposures on the cardiopulmonary and immune systems of healthy animals and animal models of susceptibility.  Continue reading

Ten policies to benefit pollinators

Several pollinator experts from around the globe contributed to a document relating to recommended government policies for pollinators. The suggestions include several insights stated in a document published by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) last year. Authors recommend ten policies that would support and benefit pollinator populations. Continue reading