Bumble bee declines points to mass extinction

Image of bumble bee on orange flower.

(The Guardian) A study suggests the likelihood of a bumble bee population surviving in any given place has declined by 30 percent in the course of a single human generation. The researchers say the rates of decline appear to be “consistent with a mass extinction”. The team used data collected over a 115-year period on 66 bumble bee species across North America and Europe to develop a model simulating “climate chaos” scenarios. They were able to see how bumble bee populations had changed over the years by comparing where the insects were now to where they used to be.

Bumble bees carry heavy loads when flying in ‘economy mode’

Image of bumble bee approaching flower.

(University of California, Davis) Bumble bee can carry up to 80 percent of their body weight when flying. And yet they get more economical in terms of expending energy when heavily loaded – which doesn’t make any sense in terms of energetics. “This has given us an appreciation that it’s a behavior, they choose what to do. Even the same bee on a different day will pick a new way to flap its wings.”

If bumble bees become endangered in California, farmers say it sets a ‘dangerous precedent’

Image of western bumble bee in yellow flowers.

(CapRadio) Last June, the California Fish and Game Commission decided to list four bees as candidates to be endangered species, writing that there was a “substantial possibility” that the bees would end up protected by the act. Their candidacy provides temporary protection. But many agricultural interests are upset over the listing, and are suing to stop the insects from joining the more than 250 species protected by the act.

New study helps California’s bumble bees by identifying their favorite flowers

Image of bumble bee in lupines.

(Entomology Today) “We discovered plants that were big winners for all bumble bee species but, just as importantly, plant species that were very important for only a single bumble bee species. This study allowed us to provide a concise, scientifically based list of important plant species to use in habitat restoration that will meet the needs of multiple bumble bee species and provide blooms across the entire annual life cycle.”

Pollination is better in cities than in the countryside

Image of bee on clover flower.

(iDiv) German researchers have demonstrated experimentally that flowers were more successfully pollinated and more frequently visited in cities than in rural areas, despite also finding greater diversity of flying insects in the countryside. By far the most industrious urban pollinators were bumble bees, most likely benefiting from the abundant habitats available in the city.