Scientists are discovering that wild bees are far better pollinators than the honeybees that dominate commercial agriculture, according to FERN's latest story, published with HuffPost. But that discovery, which coincides with a worldwide collapse in pollinator numbers, spotlights a "desperate need" for new approaches to farming that work with these wild bees.(No paywall)
Wild bumblebee queens exposed to neonicotinoid pesticides were 26 percent less likely to lay eggs than unexposed queens, says a study published in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution.
Researchers at Washington State University are gathering bee sperm from across Europe to try to save American honeybees from the varroa mite — a key factor in colony collapse disorder, says Ryan Bell in FERN’s latest story with NPR’s The Salt.
A two-year, multi-state study, paid for by soybean check-off funds, found no yield benefit from planting soybean seeds coated with a neonicotinoid insecticide compared to untreated seeds. The study was a joint effort of seven universities in the Plains and Midwest and concluded that, as far as expenses and pest control were concerned, farmers were better off to scout their fields and apply insecticides as needed.
With wildflowers blooming as many as 12-20 days ahead of long-term averages, spring has officially sprung early in the West, according to maps kept by the USA-National Phenology Network. “The exceptions are high-elevation Western mountains ... where spring is expected to arrive on time, and the Pacific Northwest and parts of the Pacific coast... where gusts of cold Arctic air have delayed spring,” says High Country News using the network’s data.
More than 700 of the 4,000 wild bee species in North America and Hawaii are seeing falling numbers due to habitat loss, pesticide use, climate change and monoculture farming, says the Center for Biological Diversity.
Wild bees are disappearing in the country’s key farmlands from California to the Midwest to the Mississippi Valley, say researchers at the University of Vermont in the first study to map U.S. wild bee populations. The study found a 23-percent decline in wild bees in the contiguous U.S. between 2008 and 2013.