Study of Bee Health finds that “No natural medicine in once-promising compound”

Ph.D. student Evan Palmer-Young and advisor evolutionary ecologist Lynn Adler had hoped an earlier finding of reduced parasite load with anabasine consumption was evidence that bees may use “nature’s medicine cabinet” to rid themselves of it. But in the current issue of PLOS ONE they report that result was not repeated. Credit: UMass Amherst A new study of possible self-medicating behavior in bumble bees conducted by researchers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst reports that a once-promising finding was not supported by further experiments and analysis. Doctoral candidate Evan Palmer-Young…

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Bigger = better: Big bees fly better in hotter temps than smaller ones do

New research provides a lesson in bee physiology and flies in the face of the temperature-size ‘rule’ Arizona State University researchers have found that larger tropical stingless bee species fly better in hot conditions than smaller bees do. Larger size may help certain bee species better tolerate high body temperatures. The findings run contrary to the well-established temperature-size “rule,” which suggests that ectotherms insects that rely on the external environment to control their temperature are larger in cold climates and smaller in hot ones. The research will be presented today…

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Bee diversity and richness decline as anthropogenic activity increases, scientists confirm

Changes in land use negatively affect bee species richness and diversity, and cause major shifts in species composition, reports a recent study of native wild bees, conducted at the Sierra de Quila Flora and Fauna Protection Area and its influence zone in Mexico. Having registered a total of 14,054 individual bees representing 160 species, 52 genera, and five families over the span of a year, the scientists conclude that the studied preserved areas demonstrated “significantly greater” richness and diversity. In their paper, published in the open-access Journal of Hymenoptera Research,…

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Bees use invisible heat patterns to choose flowers

                             Floral heat patterns from rock rose.  Credit: University of Bristol A new study, led by scientists from the University of Bristol, has found that a wide range of flowers produce not just signals that we can see and smell, but also ones that are invisible such as heat. In the hidden world of flower-pollinator interactions, heat can act not only as life-sustaining warmth, but can also be part of the rich variety of sensory signposts that flowers…

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Radar tracking reveals how bees develop a route between flowers

A bumblebee eats a food reward presented on an artificial flower. Five such feeders each contain 1/5 of the amount required to fill her up and the bee must learn a route to take her to all five. Visible in the background are a Landrover from which researchers monitor the harmonic radar and a shed which contains the bee’s nest. Credit: Joseph Woodgate As bees gain foraging experience they continually refine both the order in which they visit flowers and the flight paths they take between flowers to generate better…

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Tiny bees play big part in secret sex lives of trees

This map shows how bees carried pollen from numerous father trees to a specific mother tree, often traveling from more than two kilometers away. University of Texas at Austin researchers analyzed seeds and genetic markers in trees to determine which bees carried pollen from where. Credit: The University of Texas at Austin When it comes to sex between plants, tiny bees the size of ladybugs play a critical role in promoting long-distance pairings. That’s what scientists at The University of Texas at Austin discovered after one of the most detailed…

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Pesticides may cause bumble bees to lose their buzz, study finds

Pesticides significantly reduce the number of pollen grains a bumblebee is able to collect, a new University of Stirling study has found. The research, conducted by a team in the Faculty of Natural Sciences, found that field-realistic doses of a neonicotinoid pesticide affects the behaviour of bees ultimately interfering with the type of vibrations they produce while collecting pollen. Dr Penelope Whitehorn, the University of Stirling Research Fellow who led the research, said: “Our result is the first to demonstrate quantitative changes in the type of buzzes produced by bees…

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In bee decline, fungicides emerge as improbable villain

Fungicides particularly chlorothalonil — appear to be impacting bee health. Credit: © Zacarias da Mata / Fotolia When a Cornell-led team of scientists analyzed two dozen environmental factors to understand bumblebee population declines and range contractions, they expected to find stressors like changes in land use, geography or insecticides. Instead, they found a shocker: fungicides, commonly thought to have no impact. “Insecticides work; they kill insects. Fungicides have been largely overlooked because they are not targeted for insects, but fungicides may not be quite as benign toward bumblebees as we…

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