UK researchers to study pollinator food availability on farmland

by Katie Pratt, University of Kentucky

Pollinators are extremely important to agriculture, accounting for one in every three bites of food, but their populations have been declining worldwide for a number of years. In a new study, University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment researchers are evaluating how food availability on farmland impacts bee communities in early spring.

“Managing corn and soybean fields in a way that provides food for pollinators early in the spring could be beneficial to bee communities,” said Clare Rittschof, UK assistant professor in the Department of Entomology and leader of the project. “The goal of this project is to help producers improve pollinator populations on their land by providing an attractive and nutritious food source for them.” Continue reading

BeeMORE Undergraduate Summer Research paid internship

If you are an undergraduate science major who is interested in pursuing a career in STEM, there is an exciting new opportunity to develop your skills while studying the interface between microbes and beesBeeMORE is a USDA-funded Research and Extension Experience for Undergraduates who are interested in significantly advancing their research skills in the field, the laboratory, or both. Continue reading

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

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

NC State study finds Triangle bees can’t stand the heat

In the News and Observer

On a hot summer day, urban areas of the Triangle can be up to five degrees warmer than surrounding rural locations, and the temperature gap grows after the sun sets, as acres of pavement, concrete and steel emit heat absorbed during the day.

The phenomenon is known as the “urban heat island” effect, and a recent N.C. State University study shows that many of North Carolina’s native bee species keep away from hot, urban areas. The study also offers a glimpse at how bees might be affected by rising temperatures due to climate change. Continue reading

USDA pollinator study examines forage quality

In Delta Farm Press

USDA’s Economic Research Service conducted a literature review of the effects of land use on pollinator health and examined the trends in pollinator forage quality over the last 30 years. Continue reading

New Texas A&M AgriLife sweetclover variety – Silver River Sweetclover – paradise for pollinators

by Adam Russell, Texas A&M AgriLife

Donning his beekeeper suit, Charles Touchstone, of Arapaho, Oklahoma, stepped a few feet inside a buzzing 90-acre field of Silver River Sweetclover planted for seed production near Taloga, Oklahoma. Some of the lacy white flowered shoots busy with bees stretched above his 6-foot frame.

Silver River Sweetclover is a new Texas A&M variety available through Turner Seed Co. in Breckenridge, and Justin Seed Co. in Justin. The variety was developed through cooperative efforts by researchers at Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension centers in Overton, Beeville and Uvalde with the help of Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service specialists in College Station. Continue reading