Scientists are using weather radar to devise detailed bug maps

Image of weather radar dish next to open field.

(Washington Post) As meteorologists are all too aware, not everything that shows up on their radar is related to weather. Sometimes, it’s a mass migration of grasshoppers, millions of mayflies hatching at once or an angry horde of flying ants. While forecasters normally try to remove the bugs from their data, a group of meteorologists are now joining forces with insect researchers to study them.

For less bee bycatch, leave geraniol out of Japanese beetle traps

Image of group of Japanese beetles.

(Entomology Today) Commercial traps and lures are essential for monitoring and controlling Japanese beetle populations, but they also attract and kill beneficial, non-targeted insects, including bees. Researchers set out to determine ways to design traps that do not attract and kill bees. Their results indicated that bee capture can be reduced by using a floral lure combination that does not contain geraniol.

A new board game educates as players compete to stave off honey bee colony collapse

Image of game box.

(Science) Could you survive a year in the life of a queen bee? A new tabletop board game challenges players to do just that, providing a surprisingly educational experience along the way. Bee Lives: We Will Only Know Summer was designed by beekeeper and librarian Matthew Shoemaker and pointedly avoids cartoonish depictions of the beloved pollinators. Its earnest attempt to portray realistic hive dynamics will delight players as they attempt to weather the challenges faced by honey bee colonies season after season.

Bee-harming pesticides make migrating songbirds sick too

Image of white-crowned sparrow in researcher's hand.

(CBC) White-crowned sparrows that ate a tiny dose of the neonicotinoid imidacloprid — equivalent to a just a few coated seeds and far below the lethal dose — lost their appetite, quickly lost weight at a time when they should be fattening up and delayed their migration to their breeding ground by several days. That delay could potentially reduce their success at breeding at a time when bird populations are falling across North America.

This bee gets punched by flowers for your ice cream

Animated image of a leafcutter bee in a hole.

(KQED) VIDEO Next time you eat ice cream, thank a bee. Without them, there would be no cones, milkshakes or sundaes. Every summer, alfalfa leafcutter bees pollinate alfalfa in an intricate process that gets them thwacked by the flowers when they release the pollen that allows the plants to make seeds. And these seeds are what make it possible to grow nutritious hay for dairy cows.

Study shows bee brains process positive and negative experiences differently

Image of honey bee on yellow flower.

(Phys.org) Scientists have known for a long time that vertebrates handle positive and negative events differently, storing and retrieving those memories in their brains differently, as well. To find out if the same is true for invertebrates, they exposed honey bees to positive or negative events and then studied gene expression in a part of their brain known as the mushroom body.

Swapping pollinators reduces species diversity

Image of Penstemon.

(University of Kansas) Flowers depend on bees, birds and other pollinators to reproduce, and they can adapt strategically to attract these creatures – sometimes altering their traits so dramatically that they lure an altogether new pollinator. But not all such strategies are created equal. Researchers demonstrate that abandoning one pollinator for another to realize immediate benefits could compromise a flower’s long-term survival.