KILLING OUR BEES:
Everything we know about Neonic Pesticides is Awful
by John Upton
Neonicotinoid pesticides are great at killing insect pests, which helps to explain the dramatic rise in their use during the past 20 years. They’re popular because they are systemic pesticides — they don’t just get sprayed onto plant surfaces. They can be applied to seeds, roots, and soil, becoming incorporated into a growing plant, turning it into poison for any bugs that might munch upon it.
But using neonics to control pests is like using a hand grenade to thwart a bank robbery.
Which is why the European Union has banned the use of many of them – and why environmentalists are suing the U.S. EPA to do the same.
The pesticides don’t just affect pest species. Most prominently, they affect bees and butterflies, which are poisoned when they gather pollen and nectar. But neonics’ negative impacts go far beyond pollinators. They kill all manner of animals and affect all kinds of ecosystems. They’re giving rise to Silent Spring 2.0…
(read more: Grist.org)

KILLING OUR BEES:

Everything we know about Neonic Pesticides is Awful

by John Upton

Neonicotinoid pesticides are great at killing insect pests, which helps to explain the dramatic rise in their use during the past 20 years. They’re popular because they are systemic pesticides — they don’t just get sprayed onto plant surfaces. They can be applied to seeds, roots, and soil, becoming incorporated into a growing plant, turning it into poison for any bugs that might munch upon it.

But using neonics to control pests is like using a hand grenade to thwart a bank robbery.

Which is why the European Union has banned the use of many of them – and why environmentalists are suing the U.S. EPA to do the same.

The pesticides don’t just affect pest species. Most prominently, they affect bees and butterflies, which are poisoned when they gather pollen and nectar. But neonics’ negative impacts go far beyond pollinators. They kill all manner of animals and affect all kinds of ecosystems. They’re giving rise to Silent Spring 2.0…

(read more: Grist.org)

Extinct 30 years ago - the short-haired bumble bee takes to the skies 
by Michael Parker
The short haired bumblebee was declared extinct in the UK 30 years ago. But now the species is being re-introduced in the flower-rich meadows and field margins of Kent, writes Michael Parker - helped along by sympathetic local farmers.
A species of bee declared extinct in the UK almost 30 years ago is flying again - thanks in part to the efforts of farmers. Researchers have been restoring the short-haired bumblebee to Romney Marsh and Dungeness over the past three years, and the results are starting to come in.
Nikki Gammans and her team have travelled to Sweden each year since 2012 to collect around 100 queen bees, transport them back to Britain and, after a two week quarantine period, release them into the flower-rich countryside of Kent…
(read more: TheEcologist)
photograph by Nikki Gammans

Extinct 30 years ago - the short-haired bumble bee takes to the skies 

by Michael Parker

The short haired bumblebee was declared extinct in the UK 30 years ago. But now the species is being re-introduced in the flower-rich meadows and field margins of Kent, writes Michael Parker - helped along by sympathetic local farmers.

A species of bee declared extinct in the UK almost 30 years ago is flying again - thanks in part to the efforts of farmers. Researchers have been restoring the short-haired bumblebee to Romney Marsh and Dungeness over the past three years, and the results are starting to come in.

Nikki Gammans and her team have travelled to Sweden each year since 2012 to collect around 100 queen bees, transport them back to Britain and, after a two week quarantine period, release them into the flower-rich countryside of Kent…

(read more: TheEcologist)

photograph by Nikki Gammans

Honeybee Dances Map Healthy Landscapes
Waggling insects could give information that leads to better land-use practices.
by Jennifer S. Holland
Honeybees are all about sharing: When a foraging one finds a great place to eat, she performs a dance for her nestmates that charts a course to the source.
Now the bees’ moves are giving scientists a map as well—one that could lead to better environmental health.
In a paper published today in the journal Current Biology, Margaret Couvillon and colleagues at the University of Sussex in England report on a new technique for assessing landscape health for pollinators—using the pollinators themselves.
"We realized that the honeybee truly is the only animal who can tell you where it has collected good food," Couvillon says. "Listening to the bees could therefore give us information relevant to helping not just them, but also a wide range of pollinators."…
(read more: National Geographic)
photo: Michael Durham/Minden/Corbis

Honeybee Dances Map Healthy Landscapes

Waggling insects could give information that leads to better land-use practices.

by Jennifer S. Holland

Honeybees are all about sharing: When a foraging one finds a great place to eat, she performs a dance for her nestmates that charts a course to the source.

Now the bees’ moves are giving scientists a map as well—one that could lead to better environmental health.

In a paper published today in the journal Current Biology, Margaret Couvillon and colleagues at the University of Sussex in England report on a new technique for assessing landscape health for pollinators—using the pollinators themselves.

"We realized that the honeybee truly is the only animal who can tell you where it has collected good food," Couvillon says. "Listening to the bees could therefore give us information relevant to helping not just them, but also a wide range of pollinators."…

(read more: National Geographic)

photo: Michael Durham/Minden/Corbis

Bumblebees (genus Bombus) 
… are often among the earliest insects seen flying in spring. This is partly because their dense “fur” acts as an insulator, keeping them warm even in cooler temperatures. 
Bumblebees are social insects, like the domestic honeybee or paper wasps. The first ones flying in spring are invariably young queens that have spent the winter in a protected nook. Different species nest in different locations: some search out snug burrows containing loose, soft material in which to build their nests. 
If you’re slow to clean out your nestboxes, you might find one has set up shop in the old bedding. Other species nest in tussocks of grass, or even right on the ground. As with honeybees, the young queen does all the work at first, but once her first brood emerges as adults, they take over collecting pollen and feeding the developing larvae. 
Males and young queens aren’t raised until fall, when they go out on mating flights. Only the new queens survive the winter; the old queens, workers, and males all die with the onset of winter. photo: USGS Bee Inventory & Monitoring Lab (Sam Droege); Flickr
(via: Peterson Field Guides)

Bumblebees (genus Bombus)

… are often among the earliest insects seen flying in spring. This is partly because their dense “fur” acts as an insulator, keeping them warm even in cooler temperatures.

Bumblebees are social insects, like the domestic honeybee or paper wasps. The first ones flying in spring are invariably young queens that have spent the winter in a protected nook. Different species nest in different locations: some search out snug burrows containing loose, soft material in which to build their nests.

If you’re slow to clean out your nestboxes, you might find one has set up shop in the old bedding. Other species nest in tussocks of grass, or even right on the ground. As with honeybees, the young queen does all the work at first, but once her first brood emerges as adults, they take over collecting pollen and feeding the developing larvae.

Males and young queens aren’t raised until fall, when they go out on mating flights. Only the new queens survive the winter; the old queens, workers, and males all die with the onset of winter.

photo: USGS Bee Inventory & Monitoring Lab (Sam Droege); Flickr

(via: Peterson Field Guides)

Beyond Honeybees: Now Wild Bees and Butterflies May Be in Trouble

by Brandon Keim

By now you probably know about the plight of America’s honeybees: the collapsed colonies and dying hives, threatening pollination services to crops and the future of a much-beloved insect.

But it’s not just honeybees that are in trouble. Many wild pollinators—thousands of species of bees and butterflies and moths—are also threatened. Their decline would affect not only our food supply, but our landscapes, too. Most honeybees live in commercially managed agricultural colonies; wild pollinators are caretakers of our everyday surroundings.

“Almost 90 percent of the world’s flowering species require insects or other animals for pollination,” said ecologist Laura Burkle of Montana State University. “That’s a lot of plants that need these adorable creatures for reproduction. And if we don’t have those plants, we have a pretty impoverished world.”

Compared to honeybees, wild pollinators are not well studied, and their condition has received relatively little public attention.  Most people don’t realize that there are thousands of bee species in the United States. Even many butterflies are overlooked, with the plight of just a few species, particularly monarchs, widely recognized…

(read more: Wired Science)

Images: T - Brooke Alexander/Flickr; B - Brandon Keim

Photographer begins epic journey to photograph our nation’s struggling bees
Photographer Clay Bolt is rolling out a huge project, traveling across the United States documenting the state of the nation’s bees, including the species responsible for pollinating our most popular crops.
by Jaymi Haimbuch
Clay Bolt is first and foremost a nature junkie, with a special interest in the more creepy crawly species of our planet. He is also a talented photographer, a fellow with the International League of Conservation Photographers, and a founder of Meet Your Neighbours, a worldwide photography project to reconnect people with their local wildlife. Knowing this, it might seem like it was just a matter of time before his latest project was hatched.
Bolt is traveling around the nation documenting North America’s native bees. As we all well know, bees are the most important pollinators of our food crops and yet they are in the midst of a terrifying decline. Bolt’s project will document what’s happening to the species that pollinate our most popular food crops. He talked with us more about his subject, and his upcoming epic trek…

(read more: Mother Nature Network)

Photographer begins epic journey to photograph our nation’s struggling bees

Photographer Clay Bolt is rolling out a huge project, traveling across the United States documenting the state of the nation’s bees, including the species responsible for pollinating our most popular crops.

by Jaymi Haimbuch

Clay Bolt is first and foremost a nature junkie, with a special interest in the more creepy crawly species of our planet. He is also a talented photographer, a fellow with the International League of Conservation Photographers, and a founder of Meet Your Neighbours, a worldwide photography project to reconnect people with their local wildlife. Knowing this, it might seem like it was just a matter of time before his latest project was hatched.

Bolt is traveling around the nation documenting North America’s native bees. As we all well know, bees are the most important pollinators of our food crops and yet they are in the midst of a terrifying decline. Bolt’s project will document what’s happening to the species that pollinate our most popular food crops. He talked with us more about his subject, and his upcoming epic trek…

bbsrc

bbsrc:

Bee tongue

A bee extends its proboscis in response to flower scent. It’s part of the bee’s ‘memory test’ in experiments to determine if pesticides are harming them.

Video: Geraldine Wright.

The study is part of the Insect Pollinators Initiative, joint-funded by the BBSRC and other partners.

http://www.bbsrc.ac.uk/news/food-security/2013/130327-pr-pesticide-combination-affects-bees.aspx

bbsrc

bbsrc:

The Urban Pollinators Project

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. 

Read more on this topic at the project website: www.urbanpollinators.org

and blog: http://urbanpollinators.blogspot.co.uk/

For more BBSRC research on pollinators go to: ht.ly/tOmAb

Copyright: Jane Memmott from the Pollinators Project

bbsrc

bbsrc:

BEEHAVE

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.  

Try it out at:  www.beehave-model.net.   

BBSRC funds lots of research to help us understand bee health because they are vital for pollinating many food crops.

For more BBSRC bee research visit: http://tmblr.co/ZtJ7bq17_I-_W

Images from Peter Kennedy at the University of Exeter.

 

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…
(read more: Science News/AAAS)
image: Jorge Barrios/Wikimedia Commons

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…

(read more: Science News/AAAS)

image: Jorge Barrios/Wikimedia Commons

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…
(read more: Entomology Today)
Photo by de Brito Sanchez et al.

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…

(read more: Entomology Today)

Photo by de Brito Sanchez et al.