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.

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.

Bumble bee disease, reproduction shaped by flowering strip plants

Image of bee on sunflower.

(NC State University) Flowering strips can help offset pollinator decline but may also bring risks of higher pathogen infection rates for pollinators foraging in those strips. Bumble bees exposed to certain plants showed higher rates of infection by Crithidia bombi, a bee pathogen that is associated with reduced bee-foraging abilities as well as mortality in food-compromised bees.

Grassland studies, radar-tracked bumblebees offer clues for protecting pollinators

Image of bee flying away from flower.

(Horizon) Studying exactly how declining pollinator populations affect biodiversity is a challenge, as is studying any changes to bee behavior and foraging. One way to study an animal’s behavior is to track it. But this is tricky with bumble bees. Unless you use a radar system to pinpoint the position of the bee every few seconds…

Endangered Species Act protection sought for Suckley’s cuckoo bumble bee

Image of Suckley's bumble bee.

(Center for Biological Diversity) The Center for Biological Diversity has petitioned for Endangered Species Act protection today for the critically imperiled Suckley’s cuckoo bumble bee, which has declined by more than 90 percent. The bee is unusual in that it is a “cuckoo” or social parasite that takes over the nests of other bumblebees. Due to habitat loss, Suckley’s now mostly survives on public land, where it is still threatened by grazing, over-use of pesticides and fire suppression.

Bee Vectoring Technologies gets strong endorsement from Georgia blueberry growers

Image of bumble bee boxes.

(Yahoo Finance) “BVT continues to positively impact our blueberry operations. We had very high fruit set despite poor weather conditions at times. 2020 will definitely be the highest production year for us and we will continue to use BVT for years to come,” said a co-founder of Major League Blueberries. Up next for BVT is the berry season in the Pacific Northwest.

Bumble bee experiments in lockdown

Image of hand holding a bumble bee in a vial.

(Jeremy Hemberger) The chaos brought about by the global coronavirus pandemic has not only claimed lives, it has disrupted experiments in labs across the world. Some scientists can thankfully carry on their pieces of work at home or in back yards, including those of us who study bumble bees. This post lays out the supplies needed to rear bumble bees on a budget at home, how to capture and install queens, providing colonies optimal conditions, and some hints that might make troubleshooting issues easier.