Sharing bees helps more farmers

Image of wildflower strip between two farm fields.

(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.”

Decline of bees, other pollinators threatens US crop yields

Image of bumble bee on flower.

(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.”

Wild bees depend on the landscape structure

Image of researcher in field with net.

(EurekAlert/University of Göttingen) New research was out by agroecologists from the University of Göttingen indicate that sowing strips of wildflowers along conventional cereal fields and the increased density of flowers in organic farming encourage bumblebees as well as solitary wild bees and hoverflies. Bumblebee colonies benefit from flower strips along small fields, but in organic farming, they benefit from large fields.

Agroforestry is ‘win win’ for bees and crops

Image of trees in the woods.

(EurekAlert/University of Reading) A new study provides observed evidence that Planting woody plant species alongside crops can increase wild insect pollinator numbers and increases pollination. Researchers found agroforestry sites had double the number of solitary bees and hoverflies, and in arable agroforestry sites there were 2.4 times more bumblebees than in those with just one kind of crop.

Plan Bee: How farmers are using native mason bees to boost crop production

Image of mason bee in palm of hand.

(Capital Press) Jim Watts calls himself a farmer, but he doesn’t raise livestock or crops. Watts is a mason bee farmer. Watts Solitary Bees has two divisions: a commercial side that sells mason and leafcutter bees to large-scale producers, and a rental side, called Rent Mason Bees, that rents bees to small farms, backyard gardeners and urbanites. In recent years, many farmers say they have bought or rented mason bees because they are affordable, low maintenance, improve crop yields, repopulate areas with native species and even push honey bees working alongside them to be more efficient.

EPA asked to approve dinotefuran on apples, peaches, nectarines

Image of apple trees.

(Center for Biological Diversity) The Environmental Protection Agency is considering granting “emergency” approval of a neonicotinoid pesticide for use on more than 57,000 acres of fruit trees, including apples, peaches and nectarines, in Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania. If granted, this would mark the tenth straight year that emergency exemptions of dinotefuran have been granted in Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania to target the brown marmorated stink bug on pome and stone fruit trees, which are highly attractive to bees.