Bee shortage in Australia threatens crop pollination after back-to-back dry wet seasons

Image of beekeeper holding frame.

(ABC NEWS) Bee numbers in Australia’s Northern Territory are dwindling after back-to-back dry wet seasons, to the point that beekeepers cannot satisfy demand for honey and crucial pollination services. The lower rainfall caused many native Top End trees and plants to produce much less nectar, on which healthy bee populations depend.

Beekeeper says nothing can be done to stop New Zealand bees picking up traces of glyphosate

Image of mānuka honey.

(TVNZ) The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) first found small traces of the chemical in 22.3% of samples it took from a range of different honey types from across the country. It later discovered further tiny traces in 11 of 60 mānuka honey products purchased from retail outlets. While MPI stresses it’s safe to eat and there is no food safety risk, they admit beekeepers have “little practical means of excluding bees from foraging on plants treated with glyphosate”, saying the only way to be sure is to place a hive in the centre of a 28 square kilometer spray-free area.

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.