Even bees argue over where to get dinner

Image of honey bee being held by fingers.

(Arizona State University) There’s a learning behavior called latent inhibition. It screens out irrelevant stimuli, allowing the mind to focus on the most pressing and practical issues. If you’ve ignored emails to get a report in on deadline, you’re familiar with it. Honey bees with high latent inhibition forage at the same trusted spots, day in and day out. Low latent inhibition bees learn new and familiar food locations equally well. What happens in the bee world in a mixed colony? Who wins out?

Fossil pollen record suggests vulnerability to mass extinction ahead

Image of two researchers in woods.

(Georgia Institute of Technology) Reduced resilience of plant biomes in North America could be setting the stage for the kind of mass extinctions not seen since the retreat of glaciers and arrival of humans about 13,000 years ago, cautions a new study. “Our work indicates that landscapes today are once again exhibiting low resilience, foreboding potential extinctions to come. Conservation strategies focused on improving both landscape and ecosystem resilience by increasing local connectivity and targeting regions with high richness and diverse landforms can mitigate these extinction risks.”

Ecologists report climate change affecting bee, plant life cycle

Image of miner bee on flower.

(EurekAlert, Utah State University) “We find bee emergence timing is advancing with snowmelt timing, but bee phenology – timing of emergence, peak abundance and senescence – is less sensitive than flower phenology. Given global concerns about pollinator declines, the research provides important insight into the potential for reduced synchrony between flowers and their pollinators under climate change.”

Honey bees can’t practice social distancing, so they stay healthy in close quarters by working together

Image inside a honey bee hive.

(The Conversation) “As behavioral ecologists who have studied social interactions in honey bees, we see parallels between life in the hive and efforts to manage COVID-19 in densely populated settings. Although honey bees live in conditions that aren’t conducive to social distancing, they have developed unique ways to deal with disease by collectively working to keep the colony healthy.”

A 429-million-year-old trilobite had eyes like those of modern bees

Image of fossilized trilobite eye.

(Scientific American) Despite being 429 million years old, this trilobite has a modern-looking eye that resembles those of today’s bees and dragonflies. “For a long time, it was thought that just bones, teeth and other hard objects could be preserved in the fossil record. To be able to distinguish cellular structures, especially in the eyes, is very, very rare and exceptional.”

Insect diversity boosted by combination of crop diversity and semi-natural habitats

Image of trees in field of flowers.

(British Ecological Society) The study, by researchers in Sweden, the UK, Italy, Germany, Spain and France, found that increasing the diversity of crops in agricultural landscapes increased the diversity of beneficial insects such as pollinators. However, this benefit was only seen in landscapes with high proportions of semi-natural habitats such as forests and grassland.