Natural history of an Australian bee community, studied for ten years

Image of blue vane trap.

(Austral Entomology) “We surveyed bees using a blue vane trap during spring, summer and autumn from 2008 to 2017 at one location in Canberra, Australia. To the best of our knowledge, this is the longest near‐continuous record of bee activity in the southern hemisphere… Our findings relate only to our study site but are similar to findings from other long‐term studies conducted in the northern hemisphere, which collectively present a picture of high natural variability in bee communities that must be considered when interpreting findings of bee responses to anthropogenic disturbances.”

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.

Buried under colonial concrete, Botany Bay has even been robbed of its botany

Image of Xanthorrhoea plants.

(The Conversation) The HMS Endeavour’s week-long stay on the shores of Kamay in 1770 yielded so many botanical specimens unknown to western science, Captain James Cook called the area Botany Bay. Today, however, the site better reflects 20th-century European exploitation of the Australian landscape than it does early or pre-British Botany Bay. Yet not all is lost. “We studied pollen released from flowering plants and conifers, which can accumulate and preserve in sediment layers through time. Looking at this preserved pollen lets us develop a timeline of vegetation change over hundreds to thousands of years.”

Bees in Fiji point to new evolutionary answers

Close up image of Fijian bee.

(EurekAlert/Flinders University) The adaptation to new habitats and niches is often assumed to drive the diversification of species. But rare bees found in high mountain areas of Fiji provide evidence that they have evolved into many species, despite the fact they can’t readily adapt to different habitats. “Perhaps, if Darwin had studied Fijian bees instead of Galapagos finches, he might have come to rather different conclusions about the origin of species.”

Museum of the Earth’s bees exhibit is now online

Image of bee exhibit in museum.

(Museum of the Earth) The current special exhibit at the Museum of the Earth in Ithaca, New York, is “Bees! Diversity, Evolution, Conservation”. While the museum has made the decision to keep the physical building closed until further notice, they are pleased to announce that an online version of the exhibit is now available. The physical exhibit was developed in conjunction with Bryan Danforth, professor and chair of the Department of Entomology at Cornell University.