Bark beetle outbreaks benefit wild bee populations, habitat

Image of spruce forest damaged by bark beetles.

(Colorado State University) When southern Rocky Mountain forests are viewed from a distance these days, it may not look like much is left. Large swaths of dead, standing Engelmann spruce trees tell the tale of a severe regional spruce beetle epidemic in its waning stages. But new research suggests that spruce beetle outbreaks may help create habitat for pollinator communities in wilderness settings. The research team found significant increases in floral abundance and wild bee diversity in outbreak-affected forests, compared to similar, undisturbed forest.

Pest control company promotes pollinator protection

Image of honey bee boxes.

(Pest Control Technology) Relocating bee swarms, funding bee research and promoting beekeeping are just some of the ways Abell Pest Control, Ontario, Canada, protects pollinators and raises awareness of the worldwide bee population decline. As part of its Abell Saves Bees program, the company distributed 10,000 wildflower seed packets this summer to celebrate World Honey Bee Day.

Sharing bees helps more farmers

Image of wildflower strip between two farm fields.

(EurekAlert, University of Minnesota) Many farmers are used to sharing big equipment – like tractors and other costly machinery – with neighboring farms. Sharing cuts costs, lowers the farmer’s debt load, and increases community wellbeing. But big machinery might not be the only opportunity for farmers to reap the benefits of cost-sharing with their neighbors. New research suggests that the concept could also be applied to a more lively kind of agricultural resource: wild bees. “What we’re proposing is that those farmers providing bee habitat could be rewarded for doing so, to the benefit of all.”

Wild bees depend on the landscape structure

Image of researcher in field with net.

(EurekAlert/University of Göttingen) New research was out by agroecologists from the University of Göttingen indicate that sowing strips of wildflowers along conventional cereal fields and the increased density of flowers in organic farming encourage bumblebees as well as solitary wild bees and hoverflies. Bumblebee colonies benefit from flower strips along small fields, but in organic farming, they benefit from large fields.

Agroforestry is ‘win win’ for bees and crops

Image of trees in the woods.

(EurekAlert/University of Reading) A new study provides observed evidence that Planting woody plant species alongside crops can increase wild insect pollinator numbers and increases pollination. Researchers found agroforestry sites had double the number of solitary bees and hoverflies, and in arable agroforestry sites there were 2.4 times more bumblebees than in those with just one kind of crop.

New app helps Wisconsin farmers, researchers track wild bee populations

Image of app interface.

(University of Missouri) Researchers at the University of Missouri discovered that the spiny pollen from a native wild dandelion species in the southern Rocky Mountains has evolved to attach to traveling bumblebees. When compared with the average lawn dandelion, which does not need pollen to reproduce, the researchers saw that the pollen on the lawn dandelion has a shorter distance between these spines, making it harder to attach to traveling pollinators.