Horned-face bees sublet in a honey bee colony

Close-up image of horn-faced mason bee.

(Olney Daily Mail) A Maryland state apiary inspector was stumped by the identity of insect cocoons that she had found inside the hexagonal cells of a beekeeper’s honey bee colony. After studying the cocoons, researchers definitively identify the intruders as a type of solitary mason bee: the horned-face bee (Osmia cornifrons). Horned-face bees have never previously been reported cocooning in honey bee colonies.

Helping honey bees make it through winter with early cold storage

Image of beekeeper with hives in field.

(USDA ARS) Putting honey bees into early indoor cold storage in October rather than November increases their chances of surviving the winter and the colonies emerge readier to pollinate almonds. Overwintering managed honey bee colonies in indoor cold storage in states such as Idaho has become increasingly popular with beekeepers because, in the cold, bees don’t need to forage for food, be fed by beekeepers, or be treated for parasitic Varroa mites — a serious pest of honey bees. This cuts down on beekeepers’ costs and can greatly reduce overwintering colony losses.

Croatia region declares natural disaster after 50 million bees were poisoned

Image of honey bees on comb.

(Euractiv) Beekeepers were shocked and devastated when they encountered a “carpet” of millions of dead bees lying on the ground in a northern region of Croatia. The local government has declared a natural disaster. Veterinary inspectors and forensic scientists are looking into what caused the deaths. Pesticide poisoning, though not officially confirmed as yet, is suspected to be the cause of this ecological disaster.

Plan Bee: How farmers are using native mason bees to boost crop production

Image of mason bee in palm of hand.

(Capital Press) Jim Watts calls himself a farmer, but he doesn’t raise livestock or crops. Watts is a mason bee farmer. Watts Solitary Bees has two divisions: a commercial side that sells mason and leafcutter bees to large-scale producers, and a rental side, called Rent Mason Bees, that rents bees to small farms, backyard gardeners and urbanites. In recent years, many farmers say they have bought or rented mason bees because they are affordable, low maintenance, improve crop yields, repopulate areas with native species and even push honey bees working alongside them to be more efficient.

Shuttered natural history museums fight for survival

Image of specimen collection in museum.

(Science) Around the world, natural history museums are shuttered and reeling. Museums’ reliance on revenue from ticket sales and events makes them among the first scientific institutions to feel the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. But the crisis is also spurring museums to adopt or expand practices that, though they may not restore lost revenue, are keeping the public engaged and research ticking along.

75% of staff impacted as California Academy of Sciences projects $12 million in lost revenue

Image of California Academy of Sciences building and grounds.

(California Academy of Sciences) Since March 12, the California Academy of Sciences has been temporarily closed in response to COVID-19. As a result, the Academy is projecting a 36 percent decrease in revenue due to what will likely be a gradual return of visitors. Beginning June 13, the Academy will implement layoffs, furloughs, and reductions to salary and hours impacting 75 percent of the institution’s 504 employees.

Bees, birds and butter: New study shows biodiversity critical for shea crop in Africa

Image of woman processing shea nuts.

(EurekAlert/Trinity College Dublin) Shea trees, an important agroforestry crop in West Africa, benefit from bees moving pollen between their flowers to produce fruit. A new study found that in sites with low tree and shrub diversity, fruit production was severely limited by a lack of pollination. In higher-diversity sites, more honey bees were observed, and other bees visited flowers in greater numbers, boosting pollination services.