Bee defecation on flowers may explain disease transmission

Image of purple flower.

(Entomology Today) It turns out that bees defecate while foraging pollen or nectar, and sick bees may defecate more than usual, possibly transmitting infection through their fecal matter. So researchers set out to determine how important flower shape is to bee defecation patterns, with the hope that this data might help unravel the mysteries of disease transmission among bees.

Swapping pollinators reduces species diversity

Image of Penstemon.

(University of Kansas) Flowers depend on bees, birds and other pollinators to reproduce, and they can adapt strategically to attract these creatures – sometimes altering their traits so dramatically that they lure an altogether new pollinator. But not all such strategies are created equal. Researchers demonstrate that abandoning one pollinator for another to realize immediate benefits could compromise a flower’s long-term survival.

Fish and Wildlife Service announces it will review petition to list Mojave poppy bee as endangered

Image of Mojave poppy bee on yellow flower.

(Center for Biological Diversity) The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today it will consider Endangered Species Act protection for the Mojave poppy bee. Today’s positive finding comes in response to a petition filed in 2018 by the Center for Biological Diversity. Although it once thrived across much of the Mojave Desert, the quarter-inch-long, yellow-and-black bee is now only found in seven locations in Nevada’s Clark County. The bee is tightly linked to the survival of two rare desert poppy flowers. The bee has disappeared as those plants have declined, as well as facing ongoing threats from grazing, recreation and gypsum mining.

Caffeine does not influence stingless bees

Image of stingless bees at feeder.

(Phys.org/Universitaet Mainz) Caffeine is a compound present in various plant species and is known to stimulate the central nervous system of honey bees as well as humans. Some plants add caffeine to their nectar with the aim of manipulating the activity of pollinators. However, caffeine does not appear to influence the behavior of a stingless bee that is a main pollinator of coffee plants.

Watch a flower that seems to remember when pollinators will come calling

Image of yellow flower.

(New York Times) These plants can gymnastically wave around their stamens — the organs they use for fertilization — to maximize the distribution of their pollen. More surprisingly, individual plants can adjust the timing of these movements based on their previous experiences with pollinators. In other words, they remember the past, and try to repeat it.