Do more bees mean more berries? A blueberry pollination research update

Image of southeastern blueberry bee.

(Florida Blueberry Growers Association) Blueberry growers know that to get good yields, you need bees. So researchers looked at the three main pollinators of blueberries in Florida: honey bees, managed bumble bees and southeastern blueberry bees (Habropoda laboriosa). They found that the southeastern blueberry bee had the greatest effect on both percent fruit set and yield.

Why some ecologists worry about rooftop honey bee programs

Image of rooftop bee boxes.

(Wired) The growing interest in hobbyist beekeeping has some ecologists worried. The European honey bee, as its name might suggest, is not native to North America. While honey bees are a managed pollinator species, about 4,000 species of native bees also call the US home, including its urban areas. One group of researchers observed dozens of wild species across several Chicago neighborhoods, while another nature organization recorded more than 200 species in New York City. Now, some ecologists are concerned that with so much human help, the newcomers might outcompete their wild cousins, causing an ecological ripple effect that would threaten both the bees and the plants that depend on them.

Conservation groups petition Forest Service to stop rubber-stamping commercial beehives on federal lands

Image of honey bee colonies in field.

(Center for Biological Diversity) Conservation groups filed a formal legal petition today urging the U.S. Forest Service to stop allowing the placement of hundreds of commercial honey bee hives on national forest lands without proper environmental review. Honey bees, which are not native to the United States, are important agricultural crop pollinators but have been shown to transmit diseases to native bees. They can also outcompete native bees for pollen and nectar, their only source of food. Yet, over the past decade, the Forest Service has approved permits for at least 900 hives, which could house up to 56 million honey bees on Forest Service lands on the Colorado Plateau alone. A request is pending for an additional 4,900 hives on just one national forest in Utah.

About 94% of wild bee and native plant species networks lost

Image of miner bee on flower.

(York University) Researchers have found that climate change and an increase in disturbed bee habitats from expanding agriculture and development in northeastern North America over the last 30 years are likely responsible for a 94% loss of plant-pollinator networks. The researchers looked at plant-pollinator networks from 125 years ago through present day. The networks are comprised of wild bees and the native plants they historically rely on, although most of those have now been disrupted.