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.

Wildflower’s spiny pollen adapts to help plants reproduce

Microscopic image of spiky pollen.

(University of Missouri) Researchers at the University of Missouri discovered that the spiny pollen from a native wild dandelion species in the southern Rocky Mountains has evolved to attach to traveling bumble bees. When compared with the average lawn dandelion, which does not need pollen to reproduce, the researchers saw that the pollen on the lawn dandelion has a shorter distance between these spines, making it harder to attach to traveling pollinators.

Bumble bees bite plants to make them flower early, surprising scientists

Image of buff-tailed bumble bee flying among thistle.

(National Geographic) Bumble bees aren’t merely bumbling around our gardens. They’re actively assessing the plants, determining which flowers have the most nectar and pollen, and leaving behind scent marks that tell them which blooms they’ve already visited. Now, a new study reveals that bumble bees force plants to flower by making tiny incisions in their leaves – a discovery that has stunned bee scientists.

Why are bees important in the vineyard?

Image of vineyards and estate house.

(Decanter) The correlation between bees and fine wine quality may not be an obvious one, but Nicole and Xavier Rolet of Ventoux’s Chêne Bleu wine estate feel so passionately about the subject that they are funding research into the role of bees in sustainable viticulture, focusing on beehives as a catalyst for fine wine.

Why ‘No Mow May’ could be a boon for Toronto’s bumble bee populations

Image of honey bee flying above lawn flowers.

(CBC) Torontonians with more time on their hands might be itching to do some yard work as the weather improves, but local conservationists say wildlife would indeed benefit from people letting their lawns grow a little wilder than usual. Plantlife, which is spearheading the initiative, says mowing your lawn just once a month can lead to a 10-fold increase in the number of bees pollinating the area.

Indiana company bringing bees to former mine properties

Image of honey bees on comb.

(WISHTV) An Indiana-based company that specializes in the redevelopment of former mining properties is adding another focus to its efforts. Land Betterment Corp. has formed a new subsidiary, Pollinate, which aims to cultivate bee colonies at the mines. Land Betterment says the goal of the subsidiary is to further the company’s overall mission of enhancing the ecosystem of the mining sites and creating sustainable community development and jobs.

Launching Bee Better Certified in California vineyards

Image of two people examining flowers by a road.

(Xerces Society) In the fall of 2019, Xerces received a Conservation Innovation Grant from the Natural Resource Conservation Service to demonstrate the benefits of Bee Better Certification within the wine industry. To kick off the implementation stage of the project, Xerces conducted site visits at the five participating California vineyards to assess the potential for habitat and to discuss the pesticide practices outlined under Bee Better Certified.

Iowa farm group restoring habitat for bees, fish

Image of waterway.

(UPI) The Iowa Soybean Association is leading a project to convert several acres of unused agricultural land to habitat for endangered native bees and fish in coming years. The project is targeting habitat for the rusty patched bumble bee. Syngenta, a global seed and pesticide company, has agreed to provide tens of thousands of dollars of upcoming work.