Bees and crop plants subjects of new ‘pollination guide’ for Brazil

Image of wild bees on squash blossom.

(Phys.org/University of Freiburg) Over many years, researchers from the University of Freiburg have compiled data on the global pollination of major crop plants, above all, fruit and vegetables. Together with scientists from the Federal University of Ceará in Fortaleza, Brazil, they have analyzed the data and developed a “Pollination Guide” for Brazil. The guide is intended to give Brazilian farmers information on the importance of bees and other pollinating insects, so that they treat the habitats of wild pollinators with care.

Bees in Amazon ‘are greatest ally to halt rainforest destruction’

Image of indigenous person looking at forest.

(The Guardian) “Bees are everything to me. They help me to protect the forest. They help the trees to stand tall, to produce fruit and to be strong.” The hives of stingless Amazonian bees are not just a hub of pollination, they are also the most economically viable alternative to the environmentally destructive traditions of slash-and-burn agriculture and cattle ranching.

Stingless bee species depend on a complex fungal community to survive

Image of stingless bee.

(FAPESP) A new study shows that the larvae of the Brazilian stingless bee Scaptotrigona depilis depend on interactions between three different species of fungus to complete their development and reach adulthood. “The new findings demonstrate that the interactions between these social insects and their microbiota are much more complex than we can imagine. This should serve as a warning against the indiscriminate use of pesticides in agriculture, since many are lethal to fungi.”

Caffeine does not influence stingless bees

Image of stingless bees at feeder.

(Phys.org/Universitaet Mainz) Caffeine is a compound present in various plant species and is known to stimulate the central nervous system of honey bees as well as humans. Some plants add caffeine to their nectar with the aim of manipulating the activity of pollinators. However, caffeine does not appear to influence the behavior of a stingless bee that is a main pollinator of coffee plants.

Bees are dropping dead in Brazil and sending a message to humans

Image of tractor spraying pesticides.

(Bloomberg) Around half a billion bees died in four of Brazil’s southern states in the year’s first months. The die-off highlights questions about the ocean of pesticides used in the country’s agriculture and whether chemicals are washing through the human food supply — even as the government considers permitting more. Most dead bees showed traces of Fipronil, a insecticide proscribed in the European Union and classified as a possible human carcinogen by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

A combination of agrochemicals shortens the life of bees, study shows

Close up of bee on flower.

(São Paulo Research Foundation) A new study by Brazilian biologists suggests that the effect of pesticides on bees could be worse than previously thought. Even when used at a level considered nonlethal, an insecticide curtailed the lives of bees by up to 50 percent. The researchers also found that a fungicide deemed safe for bees altered the behavior of workers and made them lethargic, potentially jeopardizing the survival of the entire colony.