U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposes Endangered Species Act protection for Franklin’s bumble bee

Image of Franklin's bumble bee on yellow flower.

(Xerces Society) Responding to a petition from the Xerces Society and the late Dr. Robbin Thorp, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service will propose to list Franklin’s bumble bee as an endangered species under the U.S. Endangered Species Act, making it the first bee in the western U.S. to be officially recognized under the ESA. The proposed rule by FWS can be found in the Federal Register.

Trump administration weakens protections for endangered species

Image of bald eagle perched on tree.

(New York Times) The Endangered Species Act has been the most essential piece of United States legislation for protecting fish, plants and wildlife, and has acted as a safety net for species on the brink of extinction – including the rusty patched bumble bee. The changes could clear the way for new mining, oil and gas drilling, and development in areas where protected species live. The new rules will make it harder to consider the effects of climate change on wildlife when deciding whether a given species warrants protection. The new rules would also, for the first time, allow economic factors to be taken into account when making determinations.

Bees swarm Berlin, where beekeeping is booming

Image of honey bees on comb.

(New York Times) Many newcomers to beekeeping mistakenly see it as a fairly easy hobby, when in reality they have neither the knowledge nor the time for it. Like anyone who gets fed up with a lousy landlord, the bees leave, turning up in seething clumps under eaves, on lampposts or in backyards. “We have too many people who keep bees who don’t do enough for their bees.”

Who wants a sneak peek of our 10 days in Utah?

Screenshot of vimeo video.

(The Bees of GSENM project) After a two-month break from this project (spent catching up on other projects, taking a little vacation time, and marrying the most amazing woman in the world), I’ve once again thrown open the treasure chest of footage, images and sound from our fieldwork in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, and begun sorting through all the jewels we gathered. Because it’s time to start sharing this incredible adventure with all of you!

Pesticide widely used in US particularly harmful to bees, study finds

Image of honey bees.

(The Guardian) Agriculture in the United States has become 48 times more toxic to insects over the last 25 years, largely due to neonicotinoid pesticides, according to the study. “We have not learned our lessons… There’s this fundamental recklessness and foolishness to introducing [neonics] and continuing down this path,” says Kendra Klein, an author of the study and a senior scientist at not-for-profit Friends of the Earth. The study can be found here.

Lasers: a new method to control Varroa mites in honey bees?

Image of honey bees in grass.

(The Bee Report) Earlier this spring, the NY Farm Viability Institute awarded $41,000 to Combplex Inc., a Cornell University start-up that is testing the use of lasers to kill Varroa mites on honey bees as they enter their hive. “One of the most significant challenges faced by beekeepers is disease and colony loss caused by the Varroa mite and the viruses it transmits,” NYFVI states in a profile of 2019 FVI projects. “They have designed a device which uses optical recognition to identify the parasite on the bee’s body as it enters the hive. If it is present, the battery-powered device uses a high-powered laser to kill the mite.” The profile says the devices have been successful in the lab, and Combplex plans to trial the device in 150 commercial hives in New York state. According to the start-up’s website, Combplex began as an interdisciplinary research project in 2017 between two Cornell Ph.D. students.

This tiny insect could be delivering toxic pesticides to honey bees and other beneficial bugs

Image of mealybugs on a leaf.

(Science) A common pesticide may be causing more collateral damage than thought. According to a new study, neonicotinoids can kill beneficial insects such as honey bees, hoverflies and parasitic wasps by contaminating honeydew, a sugar-rich liquid excreted by certain insects. This can devastate more insects across the food web than nectar contaminated with insecticides could, the research team says, because honeydew is more abundant, especially in agricultural fields.

New Xerces fact sheet takes a deeper look at fungicides and their effects on pollinators

Graphic showing how fungicides can impact the health of pollinators.

(Xerces Society) Research has shown that some fungicides kill bees on contact. Studies have shown that some fungicides increase the toxic effects of certain insecticides. Fungicide exposure has also been linked to higher levels of parasitic and viral infections in honey bee colonies, suggesting that some fungicides may impair a bee’s ability to fight disease. The Xerces Society’s new fact sheet, “Protecting Pollinators from Pesticides: Fungicide Impacts on Pollinators”, reviews the current literature on fungicides and pollinators to help piece together potential risks and how best to respond.