Nectar is a sweet reward filled with toxic deterrents

Image of bumble bees on training flower.

(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.

The EPA has approved the first-ever bee-distributed pesticide for the US market

Image of bumble bee on flower.

(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.

Natural causes and neonicotinoids can explain bumble bee deaths under linden trees

Image of trees being covered with nets.

(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.

Saving heather will help to save our wild bees

Image of bumble bee on flower.

(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.

For less bee bycatch, leave geraniol out of Japanese beetle traps

Image of group of Japanese beetles.

(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.

There’s a new group of workers spreading organic pesticide on crops: bees

Image of bee boxes next to field.

(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.