(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.
(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.
(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.
(The Guardian) The bees of Notre Dame, whose escape from the inferno seemed almost miraculous, are thriving and conserving their energy, just as they have every year since they took up residence on the sacristy roof in 2013.
(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.
(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.
(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.”
(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.