Some of Australia’s smallest species could be lost to wildfires

Image of burned trees.

(New York Times) One-third of Kangaroo Island, a government-declared bee sanctuary off South Australia, has been burned so far this fire season, threatening the “last remaining pure stock” of Ligurian honeybees in the world. Foreign honeybees have an advantage, because they can abscond with their queen in the face of threats. Native stingless bees can’t — their queens can’t fly.

South Australia’s iconic Kangaroo Island could see rare species wiped out after devastating bushfires

Image of burned sign.

(ABC) The Ligurian honey bees on Kangaroo Island are believed to be the last remaining pure stock of this insect found anywhere in the world. It’s possible that up to 500 hives could have succumbed to the flames. “That part of the island that was burnt was the main drawcard for keepers to put their hives.”

Aussie scientists need your help keeping track of bees (please)

Image of African carder bee on flower.

(The Conversation) “We need the public’s help to identify the bees in Australian backyards. There’s a good chance some are not native, but are unwanted exotic species. Identifying new intruders before they become established will help protect our native species.” You don’t need to be sure exactly what species you’ve seen. All you need to do is take clear, high-resolution photos and share them on a citizen science platform like iNaturalist.

When did flowers reach Australia?

Image of rock layers.

(University of Melbourne) New research has revealed that Australia’s oldest flowering plants are 126 million years old and may have resembled modern magnolias, buttercups and laurels. Angiosperm pollen produced by the oldest flowers was recovered from numerous sites across Victoria indicating the large areal extent of flowers during the Early Cretaceous period.