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.

Conservation charity aims to create bee-friendly corridors to save insects from extinction

Image of wildflowers above ocean.

(The Guardian) Conservation charity Buglife hopes to help restore and create at least 150,000 hectares of wildflower pathways with the launch of its B-lines network for England. B-Lines are a strategically mapped network of existing and potential wildflower habitats that criss-cross the country. The 3 km-wide corridors stretch from the coast to the countryside, towns, and cities, covering a total of about 48,000 sq. kilometers of England.

Native bees also facing novel pandemic

Image of bumble bee and honey bee on flower.

(University of Colorado at Boulder) While it’s been documented across three continents, the fungal pathogen known as Nosema has almost exclusively been studied and recorded only in the European honey bee. Almost nothing is known about the impact of this pathogen on native, solitary bees Without knowing how Nosema is affecting native, solitary bees, a whole pandemic and its ecological consequences could be going on unnoticed.

Checklist of Pennsylvania bees documents 49 new species and some that may be endangered

Image of cuckoo bee on white flowers.

(Penn State) A study documenting bees that are reported to occur in Pennsylvania has found the presence of 437 species, including 49 never before recorded in the state. Researchers said the resulting checklist of bees in the commonwealth also identifies species not native to North America and several native species that may be of conservation concern.

Horned-face bees sublet in a honey bee colony

Close-up image of horn-faced mason bee.

(Olney Daily Mail) A Maryland state apiary inspector was stumped by the identity of insect cocoons that she had found inside the hexagonal cells of a beekeeper’s honey bee colony. After studying the cocoons, researchers definitively identify the intruders as a type of solitary mason bee: the horned-face bee (Osmia cornifrons). Horned-face bees have never previously been reported cocooning in honey bee colonies.

Fancy Aussie bees flew in from Asia

Image of Australian native bee.

(EurekAlert/Flinders University) Ancestors of a distinctive pollinating bee found across Australia probably originated in tropical Asian countries, islands in the south-west Pacific or greater Oceania region. Describing the likely dispersal corridor for the ancestral lineage of the bee genus Homalictus will help understand the social evolution of the vibrant halictine bees say researchers. Ecologists are hopeful that the diverse origins of native bees are giving them an edge in withstanding and adapting further to climate change.

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.