Bees in Fiji point to new evolutionary answers

Close up image of Fijian bee.

(EurekAlert/Flinders University) The adaptation to new habitats and niches is often assumed to drive the diversification of species. But rare bees found in high mountain areas of Fiji provide evidence that they have evolved into many species, despite the fact they can’t readily adapt to different habitats. “Perhaps, if Darwin had studied Fijian bees instead of Galapagos finches, he might have come to rather different conclusions about the origin of species.”

Some flowers have learned to bounce back after injury

Image of flowers and moth.

(EurekAlert/University of Portsmouth) Mechanical accidents happen to plants fairly often and can, in some cases, stop the plant from being able to attract pollinating insects and so, make seeds. But according to a new study some flowers have a remarkable and previously unknown ability to bounce back after injury, bending and twisting themselves back into the best possible position to ensure successful reproduction within 10 to 48 hours of being knocked over.

Bumble bee experiments in lockdown

Image of hand holding a bumble bee in a vial.

(Jeremy Hemberger) The chaos brought about by the global coronavirus pandemic has not only claimed lives, it has disrupted experiments in labs across the world. Some scientists can thankfully carry on their pieces of work at home or in back yards, including those of us who study bumble bees. This post lays out the supplies needed to rear bumble bees on a budget at home, how to capture and install queens, providing colonies optimal conditions, and some hints that might make troubleshooting issues easier.

WSU scientists enlist citizens in hunt for giant, bee-killing hornet

Image of Asian giant hornet.

(Washington State University) In the first-ever sightings in the U.S., the Washington State Department of Agriculture verified two reports and received two unconfirmed reports of the Asian giant hornet late last year. WSDA scientists are now working with WSU researchers, beekeepers and citizens to find, trap and eradicate the pest. At home in the forests and low mountains of eastern and southeast Asia, the hornet feeds on large insects, including native wasps and bees. In Japan, it devastates the European honey bee, which has no effective defense.

Museum of the Earth’s bees exhibit is now online

Image of bee exhibit in museum.

(Museum of the Earth) The current special exhibit at the Museum of the Earth in Ithaca, New York, is “Bees! Diversity, Evolution, Conservation”. While the museum has made the decision to keep the physical building closed until further notice, they are pleased to announce that an online version of the exhibit is now available. The physical exhibit was developed in conjunction with Bryan Danforth, professor and chair of the Department of Entomology at Cornell University.

Rolled cardboard makes a handy insect-sampling tool

Image of rolled cardboard trap tied to tree.

(Entomology Today) Collecting information on insects and other small arthropods is time-consuming and expensive. The methods used to collect arthropods living in the microhabitats of trees can be especially challenging – and destructive. But a group of Israeli researchers have developed a simple and seemingly effective arthropod trap: rolled-up tubes of corrugated cardboard tied to trees with string. They captured numerous types of insects including cockroaches, spiders, wasps and bees.