A new method for surveying bumble bees alongside Minnesota roadways

Image of road worker collecting bees.

(Crossroads) Entomologists working in collaboration with the Minnesota Department of Transportation have produced a rigorous method for characterizing bumble bee populations and distribution in roadside environments. Their results indicate that roadside greenways offer potential to support a species-rich community of foraging bumble bees – including the rusty-patched bumble bee.

How quickly do flower strips in cities help the local bees?

Image of roadside flowers.

(ScienceDaily/Pensoft Publishers) Many cities are introducing green areas to protect their fauna. Among such measures are flower strips, which provide support to flower-visiting insects. According to the first quantitative assessment of the speed and distance over which urban flower strips attract wild bees, scientists from the University of Munich found that one-year-old flower strips attracted a third of the 232 species recorded from Munich since 1997.

Minnesota cities could get power to ban pesticides as bee populations fall

Image of rusty patched bumble bee on Joe Pye weed.

(The Star Tribune) Lawmakers may give cities throughout Minnesota the authority to ban some widely used pesticides – including neonicotinoids – as native bumble bee and pollinator populations continue to collapse. The recently-introduced measure would grant each city the choice to issue a blanket ban on a group of pesticides that the Minnesota Department of Agriculture has labeled as lethal to pollinators.

Pollination is better in cities than in the countryside

Image of bee on clover flower.

(iDiv) German researchers have demonstrated experimentally that flowers were more successfully pollinated and more frequently visited in cities than in rural areas, despite also finding greater diversity of flying insects in the countryside. By far the most industrious urban pollinators were bumble bees, most likely benefiting from the abundant habitats available in the city.

Mowing urban lawns less intensely increases biodiversity, saves money and reduces pests

Image of lawns.

(British Ecological Society) The issue with regular lawn mowing is that it favors grasses, which grow from that base of the plant, and low growing species like dandelion and clover. Other species that have their growing tips or flowering stems regularly removed by mowing can’t compete. Allowing plant diversity in urban lawns to increase has the knock-on effect of increasing the diversity of other organisms such as pollinators and herbivores. Pest species, on the other hand, benefitted from more intense lawn mowing.

What makes ornamental flowers attractive to pollinators?

Image of bee foraging on flower.

(Entomology Today) When it comes to flowers, the traits humans prefer – things like low pollen production, brighter colors, and changes to the height and shape of plants – are a mixed bag for pollinators. Researchers are now trying to understand what characteristics make ornamental plants attractive to pollinators. “I think this research is an important step to understanding how to design urban and suburban landscapes that are practical for humans and pollinators.”

City of Toronto program helps homeowners create pollinator gardens

Image of man in pollinator garden.

(Times Colonist) While most homeowners are raking autumn leaves, neighbors in downtown Toronto are ripping up grass and filling their lawns with native plants meant to encourage bees and other pollinators to take up residence next year. They are tapping into a municipal grant program that gives participants $5,000 to make their homes a haven for pollinators.