Pollinators such as the Common Blue butterfly and Early-nesting Bumblebee, which are shown in these images, play a vital role in maintaining our food supplies. But like many others, these species are struggling in the UK countryside.
UK apples, strawberries, raspberries, beans and tomatoes are all reliant on insect pollinators. Globally, crop pollination services are estimated to be worth $153 billion per year. Understanding the influences that the landscape and other environmental factors can have on our pollinators is therefore of huge importance.
The Urban Pollinators Project, led by scientists at the University of Bristol, is studying how effective our towns and cities are for our bees and other pollinators.
A staggering 98% of the country’s flower-rich meadows have been lost since the end of the Second World War but gardens, allotments and other flower-rich habitats in urban areas could provide a haven for these important insects.
In Bristol, Leeds, Reading and Edinburgh, city-wide surveys of pollinators, together with 60 pollen- and nectar-rich flowering meadows are helping our pollinators flourish.
Scientists have created an ingenious computer model that mimics a honey bee colony over the course of several years. The BEEHAVE model was created to investigate the losses of honeybee colonies in recent years and to identify the best course of action for improving honeybee health.
A team of scientists, led by Professor Juliet Osborne from the Environment and Sustainability Institute, University of Exeter (and previously at Rothamsted Research), developed BEEHAVE, which simulates the life of a colony including the queen’s egg laying, brood care by nurse bees and foragers collecting nectar and pollen in a realistic landscape.
To build the simulation, the scientists brought together existing honeybee research and data to develop a new model that integrated processes occurring inside and outside the hive. The model allows researchers, beekeepers and anyone interested in bees, to predict colony development and honey production under different environmental conditions and beekeeping practices.
Bumblebees Capable of Flying Higher Than Mt. Everest
by Lizzie Wade
The last thing you’d expect to see out your airplane window is a bumblebee cruising by. But a new study suggests that the insects might be capable of such high-altitude jaunts.
Researchers trapped six male bumblebees (pictured) living at an altitude of 3250 meters in Sichuan, China, and placed them, one at a time, in a plexiglass flight chamber. Then they slowly pumped air out of the box, simulating the atmospheric conditions at higher and higher altitudes. Impressively, only one bee failed to fly above 8000 meters, and two even remained airborne above 9000 meters—more than 100 meters higher than the peak of Mount Everest…
Tiny Hairs on Honey Bee Claws Allow them to Taste Sugar and Salt
New research on the ability of honey bees to taste with claws on their forelegs reveals details on how this information is processed, according to a study published in the open-access journal Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience.
Insects taste through sensilla, hair-like structures on the body that contain receptor nerve cells, each of which is sensitive to a particular substance. In many insects, for example the honey bee, sensilla are found on the mouthparts, antenna and the tarsi — the end part of the legs. Honey bees weigh information from both front tarsi to decide whether to feed, finds the latest study…
Scientists believe a type of insecticide, Neonicotinoids, can cause the collapse of honeybee populations – creatures vital to ecosystems and economies alike. But the EPA has registered another of these poisons for use! We’re joining other groups to challenge that decision in court. Join us and let you voice be heard on behalf of Honey Bees:
Hey! I spotted these guys clinging to my lavender in the rain in Sydney, Aus, and wasn’t quite sure what they were - I know they’re a bee but can’t recall what kind - possibly green and gold nomia? Hopefully you can help me out a bit! Thanks! :)
I agree that they’re Nomia bees (Lipotriches sp.), but unfortunately, I’m not expert in Australian bees. I do also think they look a lot like Lipotriches australica. They are certainly behaving like them. You might check with the following people…
Worker insects spend their existence tending to the every need of their queens—even giving up their sex lives. But why are queens the only ones allowed to reproduce?
The answer lies in pheromones—chemical signals, produced by queens, which workers react to. To further investigate the means behind this reproductive control, researchers looked at the chemicals produced by the queens of three social insects: the buff-tailed bumblebee, the common wasp (pictured), and the desert ant.
These are impressively large (2.5cm/1 inch) and awe-inspiring insects particularly attracted locally it seems to Crotolaria flowers. Their name comes from the fact that nearly all species build their nests in burrows in dead wood, bamboo, or structural timbers aided by their ample mandibles.
Heavily burdened with pollen, this individual was resting in the shade and allowed me a few shots before stirring into life and setting me on my butt as it flew past my ear.
The Neon Cuckoo Bee (Thyreus nitidulus) is a parasitic bee, in the family, found in Australia, Papua New Guinea, and SE Asia . It is a stocky bee, notable for its brilliant metallic blue and black banded colors. Like all bees, the neon cuckoo bee is covered by furry branched flattened hair, which is responsible for both the black and blue colours.
The female neon cuckoo bee seeks out the burrow nests of the blue-banded bee (Amegilla cingulata), and lays an egg into a partly completed brood cell while it is unguarded. The larval cuckoo bee then consumes the larder and later emerges from the cell…
“Chasing bees: The search for the Western bumblebee”
The declining western bumble bee is one of the focal species of our Project Bumble Bee. Thanks to the Oregon Zoo Foundation’s Future for Wildlife program, Xerces conservation biologist Rich Hatfield was able to find it on Mt. Hood! His discovery was documented by an Oregon Zoo videographer.
Find out more about protecting declining Bumble Bees: