Bees swarm Berlin, where beekeeping is booming

Image of honey bees on comb.

(New York Times) Many newcomers to beekeeping mistakenly see it as a fairly easy hobby, when in reality they have neither the knowledge nor the time for it. Like anyone who gets fed up with a lousy landlord, the bees leave, turning up in seething clumps under eaves, on lampposts or in backyards. “We have too many people who keep bees who don’t do enough for their bees.”

Pesticide widely used in US particularly harmful to bees, study finds

Image of honey bees.

(The Guardian) Agriculture in the United States has become 48 times more toxic to insects over the last 25 years, largely due to neonicotinoid pesticides, according to the study. “We have not learned our lessons… There’s this fundamental recklessness and foolishness to introducing [neonics] and continuing down this path,” says Kendra Klein, an author of the study and a senior scientist at not-for-profit Friends of the Earth. The study can be found here.

This tiny insect could be delivering toxic pesticides to honey bees and other beneficial bugs

Image of mealybugs on a leaf.

(Science) A common pesticide may be causing more collateral damage than thought. According to a new study, neonicotinoids can kill beneficial insects such as honey bees, hoverflies and parasitic wasps by contaminating honeydew, a sugar-rich liquid excreted by certain insects. This can devastate more insects across the food web than nectar contaminated with insecticides could, the research team says, because honeydew is more abundant, especially in agricultural fields.

New Xerces fact sheet takes a deeper look at fungicides and their effects on pollinators

Graphic showing how fungicides can impact the health of pollinators.

(Xerces Society) Research has shown that some fungicides kill bees on contact. Studies have shown that some fungicides increase the toxic effects of certain insecticides. Fungicide exposure has also been linked to higher levels of parasitic and viral infections in honey bee colonies, suggesting that some fungicides may impair a bee’s ability to fight disease. The Xerces Society’s new fact sheet, “Protecting Pollinators from Pesticides: Fungicide Impacts on Pollinators”, reviews the current literature on fungicides and pollinators to help piece together potential risks and how best to respond.

Adjuvants amplify the toxicity of pesticides on honey bees

Image of researcher among yellow flowers.

(EurekAlert/Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry) When applied alone, adjuvants – chemicals commonly added to pesticides to help them spread, adhere to targets, disperse appropriately, prevent drift and so on – caused no significant, immediate toxicity to honeybees. However, when the pesticide acetamiprid was mixed with adjuvants and applied to honeybees in the laboratory, the toxicity was quite significant and immediate: the mortality was significantly higher than for control groups. Additionally, flight intensity, colony intensity and pupae development continued to deteriorate long after the application comparative to the control groups.

Road verges provide refuge for pollinators – if managed appropriately

Image of flowers along a roadside.

(University of Exeter) A study from the University of Exeter shows that roadside verges provide a vital refuge for pollinators. But the study emphasizes that not all verges are equal. It found pollinators prefer less busy roads and areas deeper into verges. It also found that cutting verges in summer, which removes wildflowers, makes them useless for pollinators for weeks or even months.

Research reveals how bee-friendly limonoids are made

Image of leaf cluster.

(John Innes Centre) The best known limonoid, azadirachtin, is famous for being bee-friendly yet having a strong anti-insect effect. Due to the complex chemical structure of limonoids, it is difficult to chemically synthesize these natural products. As a result, their use is currently limited to what can be extracted from plant materials. “If this engineering could be achieved, then crops could be developed with an inherent resistance to insects, which could reduce reliance on chemical application for crop protection.”

Rusty patched bumble bee spottings on the rise at Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie

Image of bee researcher in prairie.

(The Herald-News) Olivet Nazarene University monitors have been active for three seasons. They spotted two rusty patched bumble bees last year, and their studies year-over-year have provided information about a variety of other species of bumble bees and their life habits. Their data helps measure how the restoration work of Midewin volunteers, partners and staff is helping to bring back habitat for native Illinois prairie species. The ONU report that specifically focuses on the rusty patched bumble bee can be found here.