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.

Study traces how farmlands affect bee disease spread

Image of solitary bee on yellow flowers.

(Cornell University) A new study on bees, plants and landscapes in upstate New York sheds light on how bee pathogens spread, offering possible clues for what farmers could do to improve bee health. The study found that 65 percent of bee species and 75 percent of flower species carried pathogens, and that pathogens are transmitted between bees and flowers.

Some flowers have learned to bounce back after injury

Image of flowers and moth.

(EurekAlert/University of Portsmouth) Mechanical accidents happen to plants fairly often and can, in some cases, stop the plant from being able to attract pollinating insects and so, make seeds. But according to a new study some flowers have a remarkable and previously unknown ability to bounce back after injury, bending and twisting themselves back into the best possible position to ensure successful reproduction within 10 to 48 hours of being knocked over.

What motivates sales of pollinator-friendly plants?

Image of urban garden.

(EurekAlert/American Society for Horticultural Science) An analysis out of the University of Georgia details the relationship between consumer awareness and the attentiveness and care given to pollinator-friendly plant purchases. The results show that information from the federal government, nursery/greenhouse industry associations, and environmental activist groups has the same impact on self-reported future pollinator-friendly plant purchasing as the no-information group. Only information from universities and major media outlets reportedly drives changes in consumer behavior.

Climatic-niche evolution strikingly similar in plants and animals

Image of scatter plot graphs.

(EurekAlert/Chinese Academy of Science Headquarters) Climatic niches describe where species can occur and are essential to determining how they will respond to climate change. Given the fundamental biological differences in plants and animals, previous research proposed that plants may have broader environmental tolerances than animals but are more sensitive to climate. However, a recent study has found that there are actually “general rules” of climatic-niche evolution that span plants and animals. “This is extremely important, because it warns us to pay more attention to the high extinction risks for both plant and animal species, if we cannot slow down climatic changes caused by humans.”