Bees are dropping dead in Brazil and sending a message to humans

Image of tractor spraying pesticides.

(Bloomberg) Around half a billion bees died in four of Brazil’s southern states in the year’s first months. The die-off highlights questions about the ocean of pesticides used in the country’s agriculture and whether chemicals are washing through the human food supply — even as the government considers permitting more. Most dead bees showed traces of Fipronil, a insecticide proscribed in the European Union and classified as a possible human carcinogen by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

MassWildlife: Bald eagles are rebounding, but bumble bees are now endangered

Image of bumble bee on purple flower.

(WBUR) Massachusetts’ Division of Fisheries and Wildlife is proposing an update to its list of endangered, threatened and special concern species to include three bees. The American bumble bee and Walsh’s Anthopora would be listed as endangered, while the yellow-banded bumble bee would be listed as threatened. The state Fisheries and Wildlife Board plans an Aug. 28 public hearing at MassWildlife’s Westborough field headquarters to take feedback on the proposed changes.

Scientists decry ‘ignorance’ of rolling back species protections in the midst of a mass extinction

Map of the United States.

(Washington Post) In North America alone, at least 277 plant and animal species have gone extinct. In the past 500 years, humans have wiped out nearly 2 1/2 percent of amphibian species, 2 percent of mammals and birds, and about 1 percent of reptiles and fish. At a geological scale that’s a stunning rate of extinction in a vanishingly brief period of time. However, the full list of the fallen is composed primarily of mollusks, insects and other more obscure organisms – and it is egregiously incomplete. “We’re obliterating landscapes before we’ve even had a chance to catalogue the species that lived there.”

Event to address possible impacts of commercial bees on Utah’s forests

Image of lake in front of forest in front of mountain.

(The Times-Independent) Grand County bee inspectors Aug. 22 will give a presentation at the Moab Arts and Recreation Center regarding a plan to temporarily house over 8,000 commercial bee colonies used to pollinate crops in the West on Utah’s national forests, including the Manti-La Sal. Inspectors fear the commercial bee colonies would threaten native bees by competing for food and spreading disease.

Wildflower strips bring farmers extra money while helping native bees

Image of researcher with net in wildflowers.

(Entomology Today) One practice that can bolster native bee populations is planting strips of wildflowers next to crops; however, a study in 2017 found that, without incentives, few farmers choose to plant flower strips. The key to adoption, therefore, is adequate incentives. Researchers examined all the economic costs and benefits of planting wildflower strips and of selling the resulting seeds; their analysis revealed how profit could be made on the sale of seeds.

Planting trees is important for urban pollinator conservation

Image of big tree with roots spreading out.

(Xerces Society) Planting trees is an important action many of us can take to help fight the climate crisis. It’s also an action that will have a significant impact on pollinator conservation. The urban heat island effect, which is caused by large amounts of impervious surfaces, poses serious problems not only for the humans living in urban areas, but for the bee populations living there too. However, trees can provide a signifiant cooling effect in these urban areas that benefit both people and pollinators.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposes Endangered Species Act protection for Franklin’s bumble bee

Image of Franklin's bumble bee on yellow flower.

(Xerces Society) Responding to a petition from the Xerces Society and the late Dr. Robbin Thorp, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service will propose to list Franklin’s bumble bee as an endangered species under the U.S. Endangered Species Act, making it the first bee in the western U.S. to be officially recognized under the ESA. The proposed rule by FWS can be found in the Federal Register.

Trump administration weakens protections for endangered species

Image of bald eagle perched on tree.

(New York Times) The Endangered Species Act has been the most essential piece of United States legislation for protecting fish, plants and wildlife, and has acted as a safety net for species on the brink of extinction – including the rusty patched bumble bee. The changes could clear the way for new mining, oil and gas drilling, and development in areas where protected species live. The new rules will make it harder to consider the effects of climate change on wildlife when deciding whether a given species warrants protection. The new rules would also, for the first time, allow economic factors to be taken into account when making determinations.