(ABC News) How do you keep bees in your orchard when there are more attractive flowering plants in the vicinity? The answer may lie in pheromones. Dollops of pheromones have been sprayed into flowering almond orchards in Australia, with the aim of creating excitement among bees, thus creating more nuts.
(Daily Mail) Researchers in Argentina found that exposing bees to foods scented with synthetic sunflower odor altered their choices about which plants to visit later. Exposure to the scent of sunflowers created ‘bee memories’ that influenced the insects to seek out sunflowers and bring back more sunflower pollen to their hives. This increased visitation also boosted flower production by somewhere between 29 to 57 percent, depending on the sunflower hybrid grown.
(Georg-August-Universität Göttingen) About one third of the payments received by German farmers are linked to specific “greening measures” to promote biodiversity. The cultivation of nitrogen-fixing legumes is very popular. However, these measures have been criticized because the benefits for biodiversity are unclear. It turns out that bumble bees benefit from the cultivation of faba beans, while all other wild bees depend on the presence of semi-natural habitats.
(Fast Company) The snack company Kind says it plans to source almonds only from “bee-friendly” farmland by 2025. Almond suppliers working with Kind are making two major changes. They’ve stopped using two types of pesticides – neonicotinoids and chlorpyrifos – that can kill bees. They will also convert between 3% to 5% of their orchards to a habitat that supports bees, butterflies and other pollinators.
(EurekAlert, University of Minnesota) Many farmers are used to sharing big equipment – like tractors and other costly machinery – with neighboring farms. Sharing cuts costs, lowers the farmer’s debt load, and increases community wellbeing. But big machinery might not be the only opportunity for farmers to reap the benefits of cost-sharing with their neighbors. New research suggests that the concept could also be applied to a more lively kind of agricultural resource: wild bees. “What we’re proposing is that those farmers providing bee habitat could be rewarded for doing so, to the benefit of all.”
(Xerces Society) “This report discusses what’s known about the wider ecological impacts of dicamba and related herbicides to native plant communities and the wildlife they support, and provide a few short-term and long-term recommendations for reducing environmental harm from these volatile herbicides.”
(Phys.org, Rutgers University) Crop yields for apples, cherries and blueberries across the United States are being reduced by a lack of pollinators, according to Rutgers-led research. “We found that many crops are pollination-limited, meaning crop production would be higher if crop flowers received more pollination. We also found that honey bees and wild bees provided similar amounts of pollination overall.”
(Twitter, Zach Portman @zachportman) “The results were a little unexpected — we predicted that higher surrounding agriculture would lead to less diverse bee communities, but that didn’t really seem to matter. Instead, the local forb diversity was the most important driver of bee diversity in these restorations.”