(Bowdoin) Nectar, the sweet reward that entices bees to visit flowers, is a complex substance made up of several ingredients, including sucrose, fructose, amino acids, yeasts—and toxic compounds that normally deter insects from eating plants. One researcher is exploring this contradiction and what it might mean for the health of bees.
(Ars Technica) In August, the EPA approved the first-ever bee-distributed organic pesticide for the US market—a fungus-fighting powder called Vectorite that contains the spores of a naturally occurring fungus called Clonostachys rosea (CR-7). CR-7 is completely harmless to its host plant and acts as a hostile competitor to other, less innocuous fungi. It has been approved for commercial growers of flowering crops like blueberries, strawberries, almonds, and tomatoes.
(Xerces Society) A recent study adds valuable information to the effort to understand the natural phenomenon of bumble bees dying under linden (Tilia spp.) trees. Unfortunately, recent media coverage of the study could inadvertently mislead people to believe that it is okay to use neonicotinoid insecticides on Tilia trees—a dangerous misinterpretation of existing science.
(Phys.org/Royal Holloway, University of London) A new study published today has discovered that a natural nectar chemical in Calluna heather called callunene can act as a medicine to protect bumblebees from a harmful parasite. The parasite, Crithidia bombi, is common among wild bumble bees and can be transmitted between bumble bees on flowers or within the nest.
(UPI) New research suggests brood-tending bumble bee workers sleep much less than other bees, even forgoing sleep to care for offspring that is not their own. But unlike other animals, bees seem to do just fine without the normal amount of sleep.
(Entomology Today) Commercial traps and lures are essential for monitoring and controlling Japanese beetle populations, but they also attract and kill beneficial, non-targeted insects, including bees. Researchers set out to determine ways to design traps that do not attract and kill bees. Their results indicated that bee capture can be reduced by using a floral lure combination that does not contain geraniol.
(Fast Company) Bees are great at retrieving tiny cargo: their main job is to visit flowering plants in order to gather pollen and nectar for their hive. Now Bee Vectoring Technologies just received EPA approval for an organic fungicide that bees can carry directly from hive to crop. The company has used this system in commercial-size test fields to reduce gray mold on strawberries while increasing yields by at least 10%, and eliminate gray mold and the more nefarious monilinia blight in blueberries. The company projects that it can reduce pesticide use by 50 to 75 percent at conventional farms that are willing to widely adopt the new practice.
(CBC) Ann Puddicombe has no formal scientific training, but she has become one of the top three contributors to Bumble Bee Watch in Canada. In addition to providing observations of bees that are rare, Puddicombe has even identified a bee that hadn’t been seen in other parts of Ontario in a decade.