Researchers determine pollen abundance and diversity in five major pollinator-dependent crops

Image of researcher looking at container of honey bees in field.

(Oregon State University) The study found that almond, cherry and meadowfoam provide ample pollen to honey bees, but highbush blueberry and hybrid carrot seed crops may not. In addition, California almonds don’t provide as much pollen diversity as other crops. The findings are important because a diet low in pollen diversity hurts a colony’s defense system, which consequently increases disease susceptibility and pesticide sensitivity.

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.

Microbes on the menu for bee larvae

Image of bee brood in cells.

(Phys.org/USDA) Nature’s famously busy insect isn’t strictly vegan after all. A team of Agricultural Research Service and university scientists has shown that bee larvae have a taste for “microbial meat.” In fact, the team observed an appetite for microbial meat among brood that spanned 14 species distributed across all major families of social and solitary bees—Melittidae, Apidae and Megachilidae among them. The findings underscore the need to examine what effects fungicide use on flowering crops can have on the microbial make up of pollen fed to brood and, in turn, their development. The research on bee larvae consumption of “microbial meat” can be found here.

Communities across Connecticut are creating a pollinator pathway for bees and butterflies

Image of girls planting.

(Connecticut Magazine) A grassroots effort, the Pollinator Pathway has spread from town to town with people from land trusts, garden clubs, conservation commissions and watershed associations working with nature centers, municipalities, schools, Scout troops and businesses. Pollinator conservation has not been subject to a lot of political polarization like many other forms of conservation. However, the biggest challenge leaders face is changing the “perfect green lawn” aesthetic. “It looks kind of uninformed and stupid to have a lawn that looks like a golf course. If you have no clover or dandelions, your lawn is a desert.”

Native Thistles Have Been Getting Bad Rap From Invasive Species

Image of swamp thistle.

(Lancaster Farming) “Our native thistles are sort of a largely forgotten and wrongly maligned group of wildflowers.” Thistles are popular among pollinators, include the American bumble bee, the tiger swallowtail and monarch butterflies. Despite their conservation value, native thistles have lost habitat due to farming, development and failure to distinguish them from invasive species.

As bumble bee diets narrow, ours could too

Image of bumble bee on flower.

(UC Riverside) “Our study is the first to look at diet during this stage where queen bumbles are trying to start a nest, and to show that the diets they have access to impact how quickly they can transition to having helpers.” And without a variety of pollens available, the queens are constrained to fewer options, some of which appear to be bad for them.