In the US, virtually all genetically engineered Bt corn crops are treated with neonicotinoids.
More and more scientists are pointing to neonicotinoids, as being the likely suspect in colony collapse. These insecticides are sprayed on seeds and are highly toxic to bees because they are systemic, water soluble, and pervasive. The pesticide is taken up through the plant’s vascular system, where it’s expressed in the pollen and nectar that the bees collect. It also gets into the soil and groundwater. Neonicotinoids have become the fastest growing insecticides in the world. The disappearance of bee colonies began accelerating in the US shortly after the EPA allowed these new insecticides on the makret in the mid-2000s. In the US, virtually all genetically engineered Bt corn crops are treated with neonicotinoids.
The EU has banned three neonicotinoid pesticides (imidacloprid, clothianidin and thiamethoxam) linked to the decline of bees for two years. The ban will apply to all flowering crops, such as corn, rape seed, and sunflowers. The move follows a flood of recent studies, some high-profile, that have linked neonicotinoid pesticides, which employ nicotine-like chemicals, to the widespread decline of bees seen both in Europe and North America.
The ban was first proposed after the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) released a report in January that found the scientific evidence pointed to neonicotinoid pesticides as an “unacceptable” threat to bees. Still, the vote on the ban was not unanimous: fifteen nations voted for the ban, eight voted against, and four abstained; but it was a large enough majority that the ban to the European Commission, which has signaled it will implement the ban as early as this summer…
The electric fields that build up on honey bees as they fly, flutter their wings, or rub body parts together may allow the insects to talk to each other, a new study suggests. Tests show that the electric fields, which can be quite strong, deflect the bees’ antennae, which, in turn, provide signals to the brain through specialized organs at their bases.
Scientists have long known that flying insects gain an electrical charge when they buzz around. That charge, typically positive, accumulates as the wings zip through the air—much as electrical charge accumulates on a person shuffling across a carpet. And because an insect’s exoskeleton has a waxy surface that acts as an electrical insulator, that charge isn’t easily dissipated, even when the insect lands on objects, says Randolf Menzel, a neurobiologist at the Free University of Berlin in Germany…
Honeybees, like tired office employees, like their caffeine, suggests a new study finding that bees are more likely to remember plants containing the java ingredient.
Caffeine occurs naturally in the nectar of coffee and citrus flowers. Bees that fed on caffeinated nectar were three times more likely to remember a flower’s scent than bees fed sugar alone. The findings, detailed today (March 7) in the journal Science, show how plants can manipulate animals’ memories to improve their odds of pollination…
…is a brightly colored species of parasitic cuckoo bee native to eastern and northern Australia. Like the bird that its genus was named after this species is a brood parasite and is known to invade the nests of other bees (mostly of A. cingulata) and lay an egg which when hatched will feed on all the provisions the other bee left for its young.
A bumblebee visits a flower, drawn in by the bright colours, the patterns on the petals, and the aromatic promise of sweet nectar. But there’s more to pollination than sight and smell. There is also electricity in the air.
Dominic Clarke and Heather Whitney from the University of Bristol have shown that bumblebees can sense the electric field that surrounds a flower. They can even learn to distinguish between fields produced by different floral shapes, or use them to work out whether a flower has been recently visited by other bees. Flowers aren’t just visual spectacles and smelly beacons. They’re also electric billboards.
“This is a big finding,” says Daniel Robert, who led the study. “Nobody had postulated the idea that bees could be sensitive to the electric field of a flower.”
Scientists have, however, known about the electric side of pollination since the 1960s, although it is rarely discussed. As bees fly through the air, they bump into charged particles from dust to small molecules. The friction of these microscopic collisions strips electrons from the bee’s surface, and they typically end up with a positive charge…
A combo of pesticides takes a toll on their memory and communication skills.
by Christy Ulrich
A single honeybee visits hundreds, sometimes thousands, of flowers a day in search of nectar and pollen. Then it must find its way back to the hive, navigating distances up to five mil (eight km), and perform a “waggle dance” to tell the other bees where the flowers are.
A new study shows that long-term exposure to a combination of certain pesticides might impair the bee’s ability to carry out its pollen mission.
“Any impairment in their ability to do this could have a strong effect on their survival,” said Geraldine Wright, a neuroscientist at Newcastle University in England and co-author of a new study posted online Feb. 7, 2013, in theJournal of Experimental Biology.
Wright’s study adds to the growing body of research that shows that the honeybee’s ability to thrive is being threatened. Scientists are still researching how pesticides may be contributing to colony collapse disorder (CCD), a rapid die-off seen in millions of honeybees throughout the world since 2006.
“Pesticides are very likely to be involved in CCD and also in the loss of other types of pollinators,” Wright said…
Slowed down footage of a bee squirting a clear liquid from its anus„ taken at the Auckland Botanical Gardens. Originally the event happened fast enough, 4 frames at 30 fps, that it was only viewable upon being slowed down. Since my camera scans from top to bottom, and the bee was positioned in the lower portion of the video, I believe this event actually took more like a tenth of a second instead of an approximately an eighth.
These are solitary wasps that hunt bees to feed to their young. The adult females dig tunnels in the ground for nesting, while the territorial males mark twigs and other objects with pheromones to claim the territory from competing males. They are notable in stinging their prey in a membranous location on the ventral surface where thevenom quickly paralyzes major voluntary muscles, yet does not kill the prey. As with all other sphecoid wasps the larvae are carnivorous, forcing the inseminated females to hunt for other invertebrates (in this case bees), on which she lays her eggs, supplying the larvae with prey when they emerge.
Project Bumblebee (Conservation and Citizen Science)
In the late 1990′s, bee biologists started to notice a decline in the abundance and distribution of several wild bumble bee species in North America. Five of these species (western bumble bee, rusty patched bumble bee, yellowbanded bumble bee and the American bumble bee) were once very common and important crop pollinators over their ranges. Franklin’s bumble bee was historically found only in a small area in southern Oregon and northern California, and it may now be extinct.
The dramatic decline in wild populations of these five species occurred about the time that a disease outbreak was reported in populations of commercially raised western bumble bees, which were distributed for greenhouse pollination in western North America. The timing of this suggests that an escaped exotic disease organism may be the cause of this widespread loss…
Bumblebees Aren’t Picky Eaters, But They Do Like Variety
by Breanna Draxler
As global pollinator populations decline, the pressure is on for scientists to figure out what makes these buzzing insects tick. While bumblebees do not pollinate much of the food we humans eat, their fuzzy bodies move a lot of pollen for native plant species, which makes them an essential part of many an ecosystem. Tracking the nesting and eating habits of bumblebees has given scientists some surprising new clues about how to encourage pollination in an ever-urbanizing world.
In a new study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences this week, researchers observed native Californian bumblebees (Bombus vosnesenskii) on farms, nature reserves, and the outskirts of suburbs. The results confirm some basic assumptions about the black and yellow bugs. Take, for example, the fact that the burrowing bees prefer to nest in woodlands rather than pavement. No surprise there.
But bumblebees’ eating habits turned out to be much more flexible than scientists had suspected. The bees prioritize flower diversity over flower density; a hungry bumble bee will fly farther to have more foraging choices. That’s important to know, because it may help land managers decide what to plant where in order to keep these pollinators around. Even small urban gardens, if they contain many different floral species, could provide foraging stepping stones for bumblebees, thus facilitating pollination over a much larger area…
This native South African bee reproduces through a specific type of parthenogenesis known as thelytoky, in which diploid females (which carry the normal double set of chromosomes) develop from unfertilized eggs. What’s unusual in these animals is that worker bees can produce offspring by parthenogenesis. Typically, the sexually reproducing queen bee produces all of the eggs in the hive.
Early Rocky Mountain Snow Melt Confuses Birds and Insects
by Tia Ghose
Early snowmelt in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains has cued flowers to bloom early, causing honeybees and hummingbirds to miss feeding opportunities, new research suggests. The animals arrive at their usual feeding times, but are now too late.
The findings, presented Monday (Dec. 3) here at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union (AGU), suggest that climate change can disrupt a cascade of animal species in the mountains.
“The timing of winter’s end is changing in the Colorado Rocky Mountains,” said David Inouye, a researcher at the University of Maryland. “These mismatches in the arrival dates of migratory hummingbirds and the blooming of the flowers where they typically visit are leading to a situation where hummingbirds come after the foods have begun to flower.”…