Biodiversity improves crop production

Image of wild bee covered in pollen on yellow flower.

(Eurac Research) Ecologists and biologists compared data from about 1,500 agricultural fields around the world. In heterogeneous landscapes — where the variation of crops, hedges, trees and meadows is greater — wild pollinators and “beneficial” insects are more abundant and diversified. Not only do pollination and biological control increase, so does the crop yield.

Saving heather will help to save our wild bees

Image of bumble bee on flower.

(Phys.org/Royal Holloway, University of London) A new study published today has discovered that a natural nectar chemical in Calluna heather called callunene can act as a medicine to protect bumblebees from a harmful parasite. The parasite, Crithidia bombi, is common among wild bumble bees and can be transmitted between bumble bees on flowers or within the nest.

New England power line corridors harbor rare bees and other wild things

Image of researchers collecting bees beneath power lines.

(The Conversation) To many people, power line corridors are eyesores that alter wild lands. But ecologically they are swaths of open, scrubby landscapes under transmission lines that support a rich and complex menagerie of life. New England researchers have surveyed bee communities in these corridors, finding numerous native species – including one of which is so rare it was thought to have been lost decades ago from the United States.

Climate change could pit species against one another as they shift ranges

Image of wildflowers with mountain in background.

(University of British Columbia) Species have few good options when it comes to surviving climate change; they can genetically adapt to new conditions, shift their ranges, or both. But new research indicates that conflicts between species as they adapt and shift ranges could lead experts to underestimate extinctions, and underscores the importance of landscape connectivity. “The good news is this conflict between moving and adapting is reduced when movement rates are high, which emphasizes the importance of maintaining well-connected landscapes.”

Settlement requires feds to act on critical habitat protections for endangered rusty patched bumble bee

Image of rusty patched bumble bee.

(NRDC) The Natural Resources Defense Council and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service settled a lawsuit over the failure to protect habitat necessary for the recovery of the rusty patched bumble bee, as required under the Endangered Species Act. The settlement will require USFWS to propose “critical habitat” by July 31, 2020, unless it makes a finding that habitat protections are not prudent. The Service must then finalize any habitat protections by July 31, 2021.

Leave the leaves

Image of bumble bee among leaves on ground.

(Xerces Society) As the leaves and temperatures drop, it might be tempting to forget about your pollinator garden until spring. But don’t call it quits just yet! While it may seem like the bees have vanished for the year, they haven’t actually gone anywhere. With that in mind, here are some important steps you can take to continue protecting the pollinators in your yard this winter.